Peninsula College’s Nil Grau (10), looks to control the ball against Columbia Basin’s Jonas Olvera (17) in the NWAC semifinals held Friday in Tukwila. Grau scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory, sending the Peninsula men into the NWAC finals at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against Highline. (Jay Cline/Peninsula College)

Peninsula College’s Nil Grau (10), looks to control the ball against Columbia Basin’s Jonas Olvera (17) in the NWAC semifinals held Friday in Tukwila. Grau scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory, sending the Peninsula men into the NWAC finals at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against Highline. (Jay Cline/Peninsula College)

NWAC SOCCER SEMIS: Peninsula College men beat Columbia Basin 1-0 advance to sixth final

Pirates defend a one-goal lead for 69 minutes

TUKWILA — Momentary confusion led to flawless set piece execution as the Peninsula College men’s soccer team knocked off defending NWAC champion Columbia Basin 1-0 to advance to the Pirates’ sixth NWAC title game.

Peninsula will face West Region champ Highline (16-1-2) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday for the right to hoist the NWAC championship trophy.

North Region-champ Peninsula (13-4-1) scored off a free kick in the 31st minute Friday at Starfire Sports Complex. The Pirates then defended mightily for the remaining 69-plus minutes of play to hand the Hawks (15-1-1) their first loss of the season and derail hopes of an NWAC repeat.

The score was set in motion by a Columbia Basin foul on a Peninsula run up the field, and at first it appeared as if the call was offside on the Pirates as the line judge’s flag was raised when play stopped. But the play was sorted out quickly.

Perched on the right side of the field about 40 yards from the goal, Peninsula’s Pip van der Ende sent in a ball that curled across the mouth of the goal box and onto the head of Pirates freshman Nil Grau who sent in a well-placed header to the far right corner.

Columbia Basin nearly notched the score at 1-all soon after when the Hawks’ Jose Napoles launched a free kick at goal that was tipped by Pirates goalkeeper Laurin Lettow and deflected off the post before Peninsula eventually made the clearance in the 35th minute.

Columbia Basin provided some moments of fright for Pirate fans in the second half but the Peninsula defense handled the Hawks’ attacks.

The Pirates couldn’t clear the ball out of the goal box with a number of Columbia Basin players ready to do damage nearby in the 67th minute before the ball bounced out and was volleyed wide of goal by Rafael Lucio.

Peninsula’s wall held on a Hawks’ free kick from straight on in front of goal in stoppage time and the Pirates parried away Columbia Basin’s last efforts at tying up the game.

Sunday’s final will be live streamed at nwacsportsnetwork.com.

Peninsula will be shooting for its sixth NWAC championship. The Pirate men also won titles in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2019 — the last under head coach Jake Hughes, who won as a player in 2010.

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