Shawna Larson (16), playing with a broken hand, gets off a shot Friday night in the NWAC semifinals. (Jay Cline/Peninsula College)

Shawna Larson (16), playing with a broken hand, gets off a shot Friday night in the NWAC semifinals. (Jay Cline/Peninsula College)

NWAC SOCCER SEMIFINALS: Peninsula women lose heartbreaker in penalty kicks

TUKWILA — In a game that came down to inches and could have easily gone either way, the Spokane women’s soccer team got the breaks and beat Peninsula College on penalty kicks in the NWAC semifinals Friday night.

Spokane beat the Pirates 5-3 in penalty kicks. The difference? Spokane’s goalkeeper Kami Warden made a spectacular diving save on a penalty kick by Peninsula’s Maylin Rivera. Peninsula’s keeper Talia Marini made a diving near-save on the previous penalty kick, but the ball managed to go off her hands and into the net. She came within an inch or two of making the save.

There were other close calls for the Pirates. Shawna Larson missed a spectacular goal late in the second overtime. In fact, it would have been the goal of the year for the NWAC if it had gone in. She made a head over heels bicycle kick on a free kick set piece that beat Warden, but it went off the right post.

Rodriguez-Bordeaux also had a long shot in the second overtime that required Warden to make a diving save. A couple of solid headers by Hannah Wagner and Gemma Rowland late in the game got blocked by Warden or Spokane defenders.

Marini also had her share of solid saves. Her best was on a breakaway by Spokane’s leading scorer, Abbie Jay. Jay got behind the Pirates’ defense and was one-on-one with Marini, but Marini came way out of the net to challenge and never let Jay get a shot off. That was the closest Spokane came to scoring.

It was simply a tight, defensive battle between two evenly matched, solid teams. Spokane also knocked the Pirates out of the postseason last year en route to winning the NWAC championship. Now, the Sasquatch played Columbia Basin on Sunday after press deadline going for back-to-back championships.

“We’re feeling pretty blue,” said coach Kanyon Anderson. “It so easily could have gone our way. We don’t feel like we lost that game.”

Anderson pointed out that Peninsula outshot Spokane 20-11 and 7-1 in the overtimes. “We’ve played Spokane four times in two years, tied them three times and beat them once. But they’re the ones going to the NWAC finals to defend their title.”

Peninsula had some injuries, including to starter Briana-Jean Tanaka, but Anderson said Spokane was missing a starter, as well.

“I don’t want to make excuses. We played a great game. We had chances to win,” he said.

The game ended in regulation 0-0 and while there were some exciting close calls in the two overtimes, the teams remained locked at 0-0 into the penalty kicks.

Peninsula’s Lauren La Fontaine and Corpuz made the first two kicks easily as the kicks were knotted at 2-2. Marini then had her near-save as Spokane took a 3-2 lead.

Warden made her save on Rivera and the Pirates were in serious trouble as Spokane converted its next penalty kick to take a 4-2 lead.

The game nearly ended on the next penalty kick, taken by Larson, but the Pirates got one big break. Warden actually made the save on Larson’s kick initially, which would have won the match right there and then, but the ball had backspin on it and rolled over the line after Warden’s stop. That gave Peninsula life, down just 4-3 on the penalties.

However, Spokane converted its fifth penalty kick to seal the victory.

Officially, the Pirates’ season ended with a 16-0-3 record. “We haven’t officially lost a game since 2019,” Anderson pointed out.

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