COLLEGE SOCCER: Peninsula players sign up for next level
Peninsula College women’s soccer players on hand for national signing day last week were, front row from left, Alexandra Rojas-Ayala, Hailey Berg, Misty Kaiwi and Laura Morgan; and back row from left, Annie Armstrong, Bri Afoa, Deidra Woodward, Shelby Vienna-Hallam, Dominique Niedziela and Miranda Sochacki.
Peninsula men’s soccer players Corbyn May, left, Lachlan Bond and Alex Martinez signed national letters of intent last week.
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Players from the men’s and women’s teams officially signed letters of intent to continue their careers at colleges and universities from Alaska to Alabama and from Texas to Connecticut.
“It’s a credit to our coaching staff, to the hard work of our student athletes, and to all those who support them here at Peninsula and in our community,” Peninsula athletic director Rick Ross said.
“Director of soccer and head men’s soccer coach Andrew Chapman, head women’s soccer coach Kanyon Anderson and their staffs do a terrific job preparing their players to play at the university level.
“That’s one of the reasons they are so successful recruiting talented players. It’s no secret that our graduates are having tremendous success at the next level.”
It’s also no surprise that two nationally ranked teams that each won back-to-back championships in NWAACC would produce players physically and academically capable of playing on.
10 women sign
Headlining the list of signees for the women’s team are Bri Afoa, Annie Armstrong, Shelbi Vienna-Hallam and Deidra Woodward, who are moving on to Division I programs.
Afoa, of Kapolei, Hawaii, will play her next season at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.
She was the NWAACC Baden Player of the Year in 2012, the West Region Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013, the NWAACC Tournament MVP in 2012 and an NWAACC All-Star in 2012 and 2013.
“Bri leaves here with her name everywhere in our record books,” Anderson said. “I suspect she will have that same kind of legacy at Eastern Washington.”
Armstrong, of Olympia, landed a scholarship at Louisiana Tech University, located just east of Shreveport.
The midfielder and team captain was an NWAACC All-Academic winner and an NWAACC All-Star in 2013.
“Annie is the best defensive midfielder in the league in my opinion,” Anderson said. “Her toughness and ball winning ability make her a special player.”
Vienna-Hallam, of Australia, and Woodward, of Olympia, both accepted scholarship offers to play for Alabama State University, a Division I program in Montgomery.
Vienna-Hallam, a defender who also served as team captain, was an NWAACC All-Star in 2013 and also an All-Academic recipient.
Woodward was a member of the 2012 championship team and was an NWAACC All-Star that season.
“Shelbi’s competitive spirit, her skill and her leadership were key to our success over the last two years. She will be great at the next level,” Anderson said.
“Diedra is one of the smartest central midfielders I have had the privileged of coaching. Tactically, she is like having another coach on the field.”
Signing at Division II programs were Laura Morgan, Misty Kaiwi, Dominique Niedziela, Alexandra Rojas-Ayala, Bronte Fitzsimmons and Brittany Dyer-Smith.
Morgan, of Brush Prairie, and Misty Kaiwi, of Kapolei, Hawaii, are both headed for Post University, located just south of Hartford, Conn.
Morgan was part of an outstanding goal keeper core and an NWAACC All-Academic winner and Kaiwi, a defender, was an NWAACC All-Star in 2013.
“Laura is a recruiting goldmine for her great work on the field and in the classroom,” Anderson said.
“Misty was part of the best center back tandem I have seen in the league. Her poise will make her great at the next level as well.”
Niedziela, of Beaverton, Ore., and Rojas-Ayala, of Anchorage, Alaska, are both on scholarship to play at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas.
Niedziela, a defender, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2013 NWAACC Championship and Rojas-Ayala was a talented and tough forward.
“Dom was the final four MVP and we wouldn’t have had the success we did all season without her toughness and work rate,” Anderson said.
“Alexandra is one of the most creative and skilled midfielders I have seen in a long time. She has a truly unique style and can change the complexion of a game on her own.”
Fitzsimmons, of Victoria, BC, and Dyer-Smith, of Australia, have already transferred to Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C.
Fitzsimmons, an NWAACC All-Star forward, led the NWAACC in assists in 2013 and is the Pirates’ all-time leader in that category, despite playing only one season at Peninsula.
“Bronte has worked hard here at PC and now has a chance to return to Canada and add to her already sizable legend there,” Anderson said.
“Bronte will be remembered here for shattering our single-season assist record and for scoring an absolutely stunning goal in the NWAACC semifinals.”
Dyer-Smith had previously played for the Pirates and was able to return to the Northwest to continue her career this winter.
“Britt’s success really is based on two things, a brilliant understanding of the game and an unmatched dedication to off-season training,” Anderson said.
“Her best days of soccer are still ahead of her and I so happy she will be playing on.”
Most of those 10 players left Peninsula with two championship rings and a legacy future teams will shoot for.
“What can I say about a group like this?” Anderson said. “To send  players from one graduating class on in a single year is incredible.
“I knew when I recruited these players we had something special but I honestly had no idea we would win as much, or by as big a margin as we did.
“Other than one single loss, this group literally could not have set the bar any higher for future classes.
“And while it is wonderful to see them pursue their college dreams, I am sad to know that the class of 2013 won’t be here next year.”
The recent wave of talent that has gone through his locker room over the last few years has left Anderson thinking about a new tradition.
“I guess it is time to start a new tradition at Peninsula — an alumni game — just so I get to see these great people again,” he said.
“And maybe, when they get older and slow down a step or two, I will actually see them lose a game.”
Three men to Division I
The Peninsula men’s team has three players going Division I this year, as well as one Division II and another NAIA.
Alex Martinez, of Reno, Nev., will continue his soccer career back in his home state at UNLV, a Division I program.
Martinez was a rare two-time NWAACC Tournament Most Valuable Player, and he was named the NWAACC Baden Men’s Soccer Player of the Year for 2013, West Region MVP and also was an All-Star in 2012 and 2013.
He tied Peninsula’s all-time scoring record with 49 goals in two seasons. He also led the nation in junior college soccer, scoring 28 goals last fall.
Also going Division I are two of Peninsula’s Aussie sophomores, Zac Newton and Lachlan Bond. Both are headed to Fairleigh Dickenson University, located just north of New York City.
Newton is a defender from Mandurah, Australia, who was selected to the 2013 NWAACC All-Star Team and also the NWAACC All-Academic Team.
Bond, of Brisbane, Australia, also was on the 2013 All-Star Team and received All-Academic honors both in 2013. He also became the first Peninsula College athlete in history to receive National Soccer Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America honors.
Mark Cottrell, a defender from Victoria, B.C., has already transferred to Western Washington University, where he will play for the Division II Vikings. He was an NWAACC All-Star and a captain for the Pirates.
Corbyn May, a defender from Vancouver, B.C., accepted a scholarship to Concordia University in Portland, Ore., and will play at the NAIA level.
May was a West All-Region selection and an All-Academic winner in 2013.
Angel Guerra, a team captain and all-star goal keeper who tied Peninsula’s record for most shutouts in a season, decided to play for the semi-professional Wenatchee Fire next season.
“This group of sophomores has the best record of any group of players to have come through the Peninsula College men’s soccer program with 42 wins, one loss and four ties — and two NWAACC Championships,” Chapman said.
“They have helped a team become ranked nationally (as high as seventh) and have been ranked No. 1 in every NWAACC men’s soccer poll for two years straight.”
Chapman noted that their talent on the field and their academic success off the field has made this graduating class very recruitable.
“Our sophomore GPA is a 3.4 with seven of the eight being named to the All-Academic Team,” he said.
“With their great success on the field and in the classroom, it’s no wonder why my phone won’t stop ringing with four-year coaches calling to recruit them.”
The Peninsula men and women also have a number of sophomores still being recruited who are yet undecided on signing.
Closing in on decisions are Hailey Berg and Miranda Sochacki from the women’s team and Erick Urzua and Kalei Gallarde from the men’s team.
Last modified: February 10. 2014 6:22PM