PORT ANGELES — The Peninsula College men’s soccer team got goals, all of them spectacular, and put themselves right back in the middle of the North Region race by knocking off first-place Skagit Valley 3-0 on Wednesday night.
The men entered Wednesday’s game in an unfamiliar position — in fourth place — despite having the most wins in the North Region. Skagit, Bellevue and Everett entered Wednesday all tied at 2-0-3 with Peninsula at 3-2. With the victory, the Pirates leapfrogged two teams, including Skagit Valley, into second place.
Head coach Jake Hughes credited both effort and discipline for the win, as the team played hard for 90-plus minutes. He said in a recent game against Bellevue, the Pirates played great in the first half, but lost focus in the second.
“You have to put in the focus, the energy and effort for the whole game,” he said.
The Pirates got their first goal on a hard shot by Alfie Tucker that was headed in by Tsubasa Abe in the 33rd minute.
While his first goal was nice, Abe had the goal of the match just two minutes later, dribbling deep into the Cardinals’ defense. He was faced with a wall of defenders and made a hard deke to his right and back to his left, completely faking out a Skagit defender, opening himself up for a point-blank shot to the far post for a goal to make it 2-0. That goal was unassisted.
The score remained 2-0 for most of the rest of the game. The Pirates got a boost in the 63rd minute when Skagit goalkeeper Bendix Ergezer was given a red card and sent off after a collision with the Pirates’ Leigh, who had a golden opportunity, getting past the defense for a one-on-one chance. It didn’t result in a goal, but Skagit was forced to play a man down the rest of the match.
Skagit’s best scoring chance came in the 67th minute on a fairly close free kick by the Cardinals’ Leo Buffery. It was a near-perfect high shot just below the crossbar, but Pirates goalkeeper Laurin Lettow made a leaping save to just keep the ball out.
Peninsula picked up an insurance goal when Leigh stole the ball deep in the Cardinals’ zone, dribbled along the end line and passed to a wide-open Manny Garcia, who banged it in to make it 3-0. It was the second straight game with a spectacular assist by Leigh.
“He’s been a dynamic, explosive workhorse for us,” said Hughes. “He’s a super important player for us.”
Peninsula (4-2, 7-3) gets a week off to prepare for a game at Everett (3-0-3, 5-0-3), which technically is alone in first place after a draw, on Wednesday. Peninsula lost to Everett 3-2 earlier this season. “That was a match that could have gone either way,” Hughes said. “This is a payback game for us.”