PORT ANGELES — The postseason came early to Wally Sigmar Field at Peninsula College on Saturday.
Theodore Baiye gathered in an on-target cross from Mason Haubrich and finished low and right in the 73rd minute to provide the eventual winning goal in a tense, hard-fought 2-1 win for the second-ranked Pirates over the fourth-ranked Everett Trojans.
This was a game that had all the hallmarks of a playoff game — each team continually scrapping for possession of the ball with full effort on display on each side.
Peninsula head coach Jake Hughes was visibly relieved after the game.
“Some definite relief,” Hughes said.
“Everett are a playoff team and today was definitely a playoff occasion.”
The Trojans struck first in the 11th minute on a Manuel Segura goal, but the Pirates immediately went on the attack and scored the equalizer a minute later on a Nicholas Hernandez goal assisted by Hide Inoue.
Offense was hard to come by for each team the remainder of the half as the Peninsula and Everett defenses bore down and eliminated offensive operating space.
Peninsula held a slim 7-5 difference in shots at halftime, but were able to play up the right side consistently in the second half, earning multiple corner kicks to put pressure on the Trojans.
Hughes felt it was a mental change and a scheme swap that found more space for the Pirates.
“Just us having confidence in our ability on the ball,” Hughes said. “That first half was high intensity. The ball was moving fast, every time you took a touch there was a defender coming at you, so really high intensity.
“Second half, we played a little more with our mind and spread the field a little bit and positioned ourselves in an effective way. We played with confidence with the ball at our feet and did the things that we have worked on in training,” Hughes said.
Haubrich’s cross to Baiye and Baiye’s accurate and well-placed goal was a fitting winner for such a tight clash.
Haubrich stood out for his play Saturday.
“Mason, he was solid today. He’s such a smart player, smart and poised,” Hughes said.
We have a smart group in general, they watch a lot of high-level soccer, they play high-level soccer and we spend a lot of time watching film and picking up the game.”
Peninsula also had strong play on its back line defensively.
“I think Chungwan Lee, our centerback, is an unsung hero for us,” Hughes said.
“Our right back, No. 14 Kyota Hiate, is a small, slight little guy, but he was tough defensively. A lot of his defensive work is done with the ball at his feet which is kind of counter-intuitive. When you think defense you think of when you don’t have the ball. But he makes smart plays when we win the ball back which allows us to transition quickly and get in attacking shape. “
That was evident in the second half as the Pirates shutdown a number of Everett counterattacks and quickly moved the ball back up the field in transition.
Peninsula (8-1-1, 11-1-) opened up a two-game lead on the Trojans (6-3-1, 7-5-1) in the NWAC North Region standings. Hughes said he wasn’t looking ahead to clinching the region title, however.
“We don’t look at it like that,” Hughes said. “We are focused on recovery tomorrow, then training on Monday and Tuesday before we play Wednesday night.”
The Peninsula men will face Shoreline in the first game of an evening doubleheader Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Wally Sigmar Field.
Peninsula 7, Everett 0
PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College head coach Kanyon Anderson implored sophomore defender Toni Powsey to “be assertive” on her free kick in the third minute against eighth-ranked Everett on Saturday afternoon at Wally Sigmar Field.
Powey’s perfectly placed free kick into the goal box traveled through a crowd and found the net for an early 1-0 lead as the Pirates heeded Anderson’s advice, asserting themselves all over the field in a 7-0 pasting of the second-place Trojans.
Peninsula scored five goals in the first 30 minutes of play to erase any doubt about the outcome.
“We respect them, we know they are good,” Anderson said of Everett. “They have some excellent players — a couple of the most dangerous strikers in the league are on that team. We know we have to play well. That’s been kind of the issue for us, but when you face a good team like that it is a little more inspiring.”
Anderson appreciated how his team approached the first half.
“We’ve been playing harder. It took us a little while to figure out what we were trying to do but once this group feels like they know the right thing to do then they can be really good.
“We are getting comfortable with what we are trying to accomplish and slowly turning the volume up on it.”
The Pirates had the dial turned to 11 during a four-goal scoring spree.
NWAC-leading scorer Sam Oliveira bent another perfectly paced and located free kick to the upper right post in the 16th minute.
“She’s really gotten to be an expert on those plays,” Anderson said.
Sammy Howa scored the first of her two goals a minute later, following up on a Miya Clarke shot to find the net.
Clarke threatened to score numerous times early, making a number of runs with the ball before connecting on her own strike for a 4-0 lead.
“Miya Clark is a really good athlete and she’s starting to get comfortable with how she wants to play and what she wants to accomplish,”Anderson said. “Miya has been awesome for us. She’s had a scoring contribution in four straight games.”
Howa added another score to close out the first-half onslaught just before the 30-minute mark.
“Sammy Howa, if you need something done she’s going to be the one to do it,” Anderson said. “She’s very steady like that.”
With the five-goal advantage on the scoreboard, Peninsula substituted freely in the second half and didn’t have the same cohesive flow of play. But the Pirates did net two more goals late in the contest.
“I thought we got a couple of really nice goals at the end and the energy came back up,” Anderson said. “Part of that could be that I subbed so much that I disrupted the flow. The group that got a little more time got the two goals, it takes a little time to get comfortable and develop a feel for playing together.
An energy-lift was provided when backup goalkeeper Chloe Keenan-Merlo dove to her right to stop an Everett penalty kick attempt and preserve the shutout in the 69th minute.
“For sure, that was probably it more than anything,” Anderson said. We realized we could have given up a goal there which, you know, keeping the shutout is important.”
Carissa Miller added a goal in the 79th minute assisted by Jordan Zarate and Adeline Becker notched a goal two minutes later with Hana Scott getting the assist.
The Pirates (10-0-0, 14-0-0) can seal up the North Region with a win over Shoreline on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Wally Sigmar Field. The Peninsula women will play the nightcap in an evening doubleheader against the Dolphins.