PORT ANGELES — Sure it was just another NWAC North Division men’s soccer match.
But the Peninsula players have long memories. Especially the sophomores who were on the team in 2018.
They remember going 0-1-2 against a tough Whatcom team last year that went on to win the North Division.
And this year, the Pirates have talked about righting the wrongs of last season.
They did that, getting a measure of revenge against the Orcas and remaining solidly in first place in the North Division all in one fell swoop Wednesday, beating Whatcom 4-1 at Sigmar Field.
It was the first Pirates’ victory over the Orcas, who have won the North two years in a row, since 2016. Peninsula had gone 0-2-4 against Whatcom in those two years.
Coach Jake Hughes said it wasn’t just another game to the Pirates.
“Our sophomores are hungry,” Hughes said. “We felt cheated last season. It was a little bit of exoneration.”
“And the freshmen want to do the job, as well,” Hughes said.
Hughes thought the Peninsula defense played well all game, allowing just six shots, including just two on goal. Meanwhile, the Pirates peppered Whatcom with 24 shots, including nine on goal.
Mason Haubrich is one of those sophomores who was on those teams that just couldn’t crack Whatcom last year. He had a pretty goal in the second half to help the Pirates’ cause.
“We knew the results from last year,” Haubrich said.
Still, he said the team tried not to elevate the Whatcom game too much by changing their approach.
“We’re trying to come out with the same mentality every game. If we stick to our game plan, we’re not going to be beat,” Haubrich said.
This game was actually 0-0 at the half with all five goals coming in the second half.
Peninsula had plenty of chances in that first half with 13 first-half shots, but just couldn’t get the ball in. They had plenty of close calls. A Haubrich header went just over the crossbar. A point-blank shot by Hide Inoue, who had a great all-around game, was blocked by an Orcas defender.
Inoue completely beat the Orcas’ goalkeeper on another sharp-angle shot in the first half, but the ball trickled just a foot wide of the left post.
Finally, in the second half, the Pirates broke through in the 51st minute when Nico Fernandez got a rebound on a shot by Inoue to make it 1-0.
Peninsula goalkeeper Evan Scholes had just one save in the match, but it was a fantastic, highlight-worthy stop. Orcas had a wide-open net and point-blank shot in the 58th minute for what appeared to be a sure goal, but Scholes sat back and made a fingertip save on a ferocious shot to keep it out.
Peninsula got an insurance goal in the 61st minute, and it turned out they needed it, when Haubrich scored on a waist-high shot on a pass from Edgar Tavares.
Less than a couple of minutes later, the Orcas regained the momentum, scoring in the 64th minute when Pirates goalkeeper Evan Scholes and a Pirates defender bumped into each other, allowing the Orcas to scoop up a loose ball for a score.
At 2-1 the game was still very much in doubt, but Inoue was finally rewarded for all of his hard work with a score in the 73rd minute on a fantastic through ball by Manny Lopez-Morales to make it 3-1.
The Pirates picked up their fourth goal in the 79th minute on an unusual play. On a throw-in from the sideline, the Orcas goalkeeper misjudged the bounce of the ball. It went over his head and right to Jonathan De Motta, who had a wide open net in front of him for a goal.
From that point on, the Pirates simply milked the clock for the final 10 minutes to secure the win.
Peninsula is in first place, but it doesn’t get any easier for the Pirates (3-0-1, 6-0-1, 10 points). They have a very tough road match at 2:15 p.m. Saturday against undefeated Everett (3-0-1, 6-0-3, 10 points) in a match for first place.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]