PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College celebrated its sophomore day in style, earning a 3-0 shutout victory over Skagit Valley that sealed the school’s 10th straight NWAC division title, a first-round bye in the playoffs and a home quarterfinal matchup on Nov. 6.
Pirates coach Kanyon Anderson first sang the praises of his sophomores, including their chance at becoming the winningest group in school history due to playing during the COVID-19-reduced spring 2021 season.
“I told them there is absolutely zero chance that I am going to capture how much this group means to Peninsula College soccer,” Anderson said.
“[During COVID], they all stayed through it, we all trained, lots of things got canceled, and this group’s commitment, loyalty and perseverance is just off the charts in terms of anything I’ve ever seen. They are all academically juniors, so it’s the most mature team I’ve ever coached, the oldest team I’ve ever coached, and I’m not usually able to coach them for three years, so the relationships they’ve developed and we’ve developed with each other are stronger than normal.”
And then the Pirates went out and scored some quality goals, a point of emphasis coming into the contest against the stingy Cardinals defense.
“They are really strong defensively, and we wanted to be able to score some nicely executed goals,” Anderson said. “You can score goals off of chaos, or you can break them down. We scored some goals at their place, but we didn’t break them down. So it became a question of can we score against a really, really good defense? They are ranked sixth in the NWAC but could be ranked higher. They haven’t lost since playing us in early September. They are good.”
Sophomore midfielder Grace Johnson, a Nordland product and Chimacum High School graduate, opened the scoring with her team-high seventh goal in the fifth minute.
“Honestly, I just kind of followed the play,” Johnson said. “I knew they were going to get it to the end line, and I knew Addy [Becker] was going to put a body on the center back, so I knew if I was in the right spot, I could finish it. I kind of went blank when I scored, but I was happy I could score for my team because we need that push.”
Sophomore Miya Clarke delivered a phenomenal assist on the next Peninsula score in the 25th minute.
Running onto a Millie Long pass up the left side, Clarke sent in a cross dead center to the 5-yard box and right onto the foot of on-running midfielder Chiaki Takase.
“Miya Clarke had her best game ever as a Pirate,” Anderson said. “What a great ball in.
“The goals stand out; Chiaki had an awesome finish on Miya’s cross. CeCe [Jenkins] was great, she put the penalty away. You have to beat a good goalkeeper, you can’t wait for mistakes. That’s why it was really rewarding. We had to score great goals.”
Jenkins added an insurance goal late in the match on a penalty kick.
Johnson called the sophomore day festivities “a very special day.”
“This game was a good combination of working hard and outplaying them and taking the opportunities that presented themselves,” Johnson said.
“Shyanne Chang was a baller in the middle. She won as many first and second balls as she could. Chiaki is so good at the point of attack. As soon as CeCe Jenkins stepped on the field, she was able to make her presence known, and Miya had that great ball in for the assist.”
Peninsula goalkeeper Musuai Siania Isaia earned her seventh shutout of the season, stopping three shots on goal.
“I thought our back line was fantastic and our midfield was really good getting to the first ball,” Anderson said.
Peninsula (12-0-1, 13-0-2) visits Edmonds on Saturday.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] dailynews.com.