TUKWILA — That’s the way the ball bounces.
Peninsula’s bid for an undefeated season and a repeat Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer title ended abruptly in the second minute of sudden-death overtime as the Pirates fell 1-0 in a championship game rematch against the Highline Thunderbirds on Sunday.
Peninsula knocked off Highline 1-0 in double overtime last season.
The Thunderbirds broke through after 91 minutes of scoreless soccer in this rainy championship game at Starfire Sports Complex.
In overtime, Highline gained possession and earned a throw-in. The Thunderbirds’ Bella Keane sent a pass skipping off the turf to 6-foot tall teammate Fiona Dawson who deflected the ball off her chest. Highline’s leading scorer Jewel Boland pounced on the loose ball and playing with a heavy wrap on her right thigh, turned on the ball between Peninsula defenders Halle Watson and Sam Guzman and blasted a shot past Pirates’ goalkeeper Akari Hoshino to the upper right post.
The shot left no doubt, Hoshino had no chance at the save and Peninsula was denied its fourth women’s soccer championship in school history.
“It bounced in front and she just took a shot,” Watson said. “And if we had the same opportunity, we would have made the same shot. They played good and we played good but this is what happened.”
Peninsula coach Kanyon Anderson has guided the Pirates to three NWAC titles in six appearances in the program’s eight-year history. He knew the outcome as soon as he saw the ball move toward Boland.
“When I saw it bounce, I thought, ‘That’s it, even before she took the shot.’ ”
Anderson was contemplative after the defeat snapped his team’s 38-game winning streak. Peninsula finished the season 20-1-0 and set an NWAC record for goals scored (142).
“I’m not disappointed in our effort, our approach or any of those things, he said. “It’s an unfortunate result, but we’ve won more than our fair share of games and some of them have come down to fortunate bounces. And I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that as well. Tried to be honest that we were kinda fortunate to get those breaks. We won a penalty shootout against Spokane to reach one final and every final we’ve played has been a one-goal game.”
Peninsula endured some nervous moments in the first half, but Highline managed just one shot on goal, that coming in stoppage time.
The ball was sent back to the Pirates’ Guzman who lost possession while trying to pass across field at the far corner of Peninsula’s 18-yard box, and Highline’s Taylor Capuzzi pounced, breaking toward the goal and shooting low to the near post, right into the hands of Pirates’ goalkeeper Akari Hoshino. Peninsula’s offensive fortunes turned in the 24th minute when Kelly Kevershan sent a clever ball up to NWAC-leading scorer Sydney Warren. Warren tried to beat her defender with speed and earned a Pirates’ corner kick.
Nothing came of the corner, but the positive play seemed to spark the Pirates.
Peninsula earned a free kick deep and Malia Brudvik played the ball toward the goal box to Sarah Reiber. Reiber was rebuffed initially, but regained possession and sent a soft probing attempt toward goal that was push-saved over the crossbar by the Highline goalkeeper.
Jordyn DiCintio connected on a well-placed ball in the 36th minute but Warren’s soft right-to-left shot to the far post was gathered by Highline.
As the minutes grew short in the second half on Sunday, the defense became more pronunced, the fouls harder and the offensive chances diminished.
Neither team truly threatened to score after halftime.
“Both teams are playing a style where neither team wants to make a mistake,” Anderson said. “I think there was a little of that going on. Our gameplan might have been a little too conservative this year. They are a good defensive team, have good players at every position and so obviously it’s going to be harder to score, but it’s playoff soccer and playoff soccer tends to be low scoring.”
Anderson said last week that he had relished the fast, free-flowing and distributive style of soccer his team had played this season.
That approach led to a single-season record 31 goals for sophomore Sydney Warren, who was named the 2017 NWAC Player of the Year Sunday. Warren previously was named North Region MVP, and NWAC All-Star teammate Jordyn Dicintio broke Peninsula’s single season and career assist record with 28.
“I don’t feel particularly deflated by [the loss,” Anderson said postgame. “Obviously, you want to win the whole thing. But one moment in one game doesn’t define the season. It’s been an awesome ride, we’ve won 20 games, lost one, and it’s harsh that it’s the final game of the season. But I’ve really enjoyed this group, enjoyed the coaches I’ve been able to work with. It’s a dream season minus five seconds. To focus on that side of it is [not healthy]. We kind of thought it would come down to one goal, one chance and that proved true.”