Peninsula defender Dylan Pauw, right, heads the ball toward the goal in front of a tangle of Edmonds players and teammate Juan Hernandez during the Pirates’ 5-1 season-opening win Monday at Wally Sigmar Field. (Jesse Major/for Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula defender Dylan Pauw, right, heads the ball toward the goal in front of a tangle of Edmonds players and teammate Juan Hernandez during the Pirates’ 5-1 season-opening win Monday at Wally Sigmar Field. (Jesse Major/for Peninsula Daily News)

MEN’S SOCCER: Peninsula makes triumphant return in 5-1 win over Edmonds

PORT ANGELES — Three second-half strikes turned a close game into a rout as the reigning NWAC-champion Peninsula College men’s soccer team returned to play in a 5-1 takedown of the Edmonds Tritons.

The Pirates have a stacked roster full of hulking defenders, cagey midfielders and fleet forwards, and all played a role in Tuesday’s win.

“We have depth at every position. That’s what makes this team I think the best,” Peninsula sophomore Jonathon DeMotta said. DeMotta converted a penalty kick to bring the Pirates even at 1-1 after an early Edmonds goal and finished the game by setting up Edgar Guzman for a score in the 90th minute.

“Having scrimmages against each other, it’s been like 0-0 [each time], so this feels like we are 4-0. That’s what made us the better team on the field.”

Peninsula coach Jake Hughes said he was pleased with the performance overall, but in true coach fashion, did find some areas to critique.

“It looked like our first game in over a year in general,” Hughes said. “I think the effort from the boys is always at the highest level, I can never question the effort. For the most part, I thought we moved the ball well, I thought we created a lot of opportunities and didn’t quite put them in the back of the net. Again, I allude to we haven’t played in 18 months. Credit Edmonds, they always plays us tough, they are always well-drilled, well-organized and that made it difficult for us at times.

“We gave up a few free kicks in dangerous areas and we didn’t defend them well, but in terms of our overall play, I was pleased.”

Pirate defender Dylan Pauw made an immediate impression as a vocal piece of the Peninsula back line. He also came forward on a Fernando Tavares corner kick to score a header goal in the 31st minute that put the Pirates ahead to stay.

Keigo Takei made a number of determined runs on goal during the game and was rewarded when he scored off a Nick Namwali pass in the 60th minute.

“You could see the guys celebrate with him [Takei]. That celebration was a recognition of the work he puts in,” Hughes said.

Namwali was impressive with his ability to defend and move the ball up the field.

“Nick was great. You can see clearly what he brings, at some point he knocked the ball around two players and I don’t think there’s anybody on the PC or Edmonds roster capable of that. He’s been adding to his game, got the ball on the byline and got an assist today.”

Kai Biegler, a sturdy striker from Hawaii, notched a header goal off of Jeong Hyung Kang’s free kick in the 80th minute, and DeMotta left a present in front of the goal for midfielder Edgar Guzman, who cleaned up with a tap-in in the 90th minute.

“Always be ready, and he was ready,” DeMotta said of Guzman’s goal. “When he was warming up, I told him he was going to get a chance. And he was calling for it, and I gave it to him.”

Guzman’s goal also triggered an outpouring of support for the sophomore.

“The team love him,” Hughes said. “They all care for each other so much, so when they are able to celebrate each other, they do.”

Peninsula also saw flashes of the brilliance returning striker Nico Hernandez is capable of with the sophomore just missing out on a few goal-scoring opportunities.

“He’s my role model, for sure,” DeMotta said. “He’s the one who leads us, even if he doesn’t have the captain’s band. It will be there for him.”

Hughes agreed.

“Nico is really a talisman for us, does so much for us from the front, a lot of unselfish work for the team,” he said. “But, like you mentioned, he was there and they will come. I expect him to bag a number of goals this year.”

Peninsula (1-0) visits Whatcom on Thursday.

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