By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
TUKWILA — Impactful transfer players have the Peninsula College women’s soccer team unbeaten at 19-0-0 and on the cusp of repeating as Northwest Athletic Conference champions at this weekend’s NWAC Final Four at Starfire Sports Complex.
Forward Jordyn DiCintio, a former Washington State Cougar; Janis Martinez-Ortiz, who started her career at NCAA Division II St. Mary; and Yasmine Escobar-Moreno, a former Evergreen State Geoduck, all have contributed to the Pirates’ success this season.
DiCintio leads the NWAC in assists with 28, both a season and career record for Peninsula. Martinez-Ortiz has scored 13 times and assisted on another 10 goals. Both are North Region all-star selections, and Escobar-Moreno has scored five goals and has one assist on top of being named to the all-region academic team.
Going the transfer route is a bit of a departure for a program that has racked up three conference championships and seven straight trips to the NWAC Final Four this decade, but the word is out on the Pirates.
“Those are players I would have taken anytime [in their recruiting process],” head coach Kanyon Anderson said. “I think maybe our reputation has grown a little bit and players know if they come play here they’ll be able to move on [to play at a four-year college].
“The other part, too, that I’m starting to realize is the experience they have here is as good or better than the experience they have had at some other schools… . I used to think that if players had already played at a four-year, they wouldn’t want to play at a two-year, but I don’t feel that way so much anymore because a lot of our players who leave here say this is the best experience they’ve had in their four-year college experience.”
DiCintio in particular has proven a premier passer for Peninsula, the top-scoring team in NWAC history with 138 goals ( an average of 7.26 goals per game).
The San Diego native, just 17 when she arrived in Pullman, had some difficulties adjusting to life on her own and the grind associated with Pac-12 athletics.
“I think it was a lot more demanding than what I was expecting, I wasn’t really prepared to be on my own with so many different extracurricular [activities] going on,” DiCintio said. “I didn’t really have time to think about anything but soccer over there.”
As a result, her grades slipped and she needed to find a new program to play for this season. But she’s still rooting for her friends at WSU as the Cougars prepare for an NCAA Tournament game against Central Florida.
“They are excited to go all the way to Florida,” DiCintio said. “I’ve been talking with my friends, they are happy I am doing better school-wise and soccer-wise and they are excited I’m playing in the NWACs. We are feeding off of each other’s energy because we both have big games coming up.”
Anderson’s recruiting pitch won DiCintio over.
“He emphasized a lot about how important my happiness was to him and the program and about how they want what’s best for me,” she said. “They don’t want me here just to score goals and win games, they care about how I’m doing, what I want to do with my career, where I want to be next year. That said a lot to me because I haven’t really gotten that a lot.”
Her transfer decision came down to Peninsula and fellow NWAC semifinalist Highline and she’s glad she picked the school tucked between the mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“After doing a little bit of research on location, and honestly it was mostly location that swayed me here. Because honestly, I’ve never seen a place like this or lived in a place like this. When I got here, I completely fell in love with it and knew I had made the right decision.”
Anderson was thrilled to add a Pac-12 level talent who also had played for and won a national title with one of the most dominant club teams in the country, the San Diego Surf.
“Those two things on her soccer resume made it pretty clear she was going to come in and be talented and successful right away,” Anderson said.
But he did have one qualm.
“I thought Jordyn was going to be able to outrun people and do some of those things, but she’s a much better passer than I anticipated and is why she leads the NWAC in assists. One concern I had is that Jordyn might come in and think that she was above playing at a junior college program but she has not been detached or [provided] any legitimate concerns, she jumped in with both feet.”
DiCintio said she felt comfortable almost immediately, forging a bond with her roommates, fellow sophomore starters Sam Guzman, Sarah Reiber and Akari Hoshino.
“We’re all in the same boat, so we bonded super-quickly,” DiCintio said.
DiCintio’s talents at corner kicks soon stood out on the field and Peninsula has ridden its set piece plays to the top spot in NWAC scoring history.
“She’s accurate and she’s consistent,” Anderson said. “She didn’t even start off taking corner kicks for us. The way she serves the ball in, it’s easy to track. She hits the ball really cleanly, so the second it leaves her foot there’s a very clear read on where it’s going to go. And for lack of a better word, it’s just touch. She’s got a lot of touch. A lot of girls can hit the ball and really whip that ball and put it into the area. But Jordyn puts it in with touch, which makes it easier to attack.”
And DiCintio’s embrace of the assist energized her team and helped her find the net for six goals.
“I went through a little bit of rough patch with soccer, being hard on myself because I wasn’t scoring goals,” she said. “I needed something else to focus on besides scoring goals, its important but not all I have to offer. When I realized I was making so many assists I was like, ‘Well, maybe that’s something I can focus on.’ So I made it a goal to break the assists record, and I did that, which was super cool. And I think that that motivated me on the field more than scoring goals did because it was something that was within reach. And then the goals started to come pretty naturally.”
And she’s made massive headway on standing out on the soccer field and working hard in the classroom.
“I really wanted to make an impact on the program here soccer-wise, because not only do I want to go back to division one, but I want to play pro eventually. So that meant a lot to me. And improving my grades was a huge priority. I’d say I’ve done well enough from a soccer standpoint, and school is still in progress, but it’s looking good.”