Pirates advance to 7th straight NWAC Final Four

PORT ANGELES – Instead of preparing for their biggest match of the season Friday, the 25 players who make up the nation’s sixth-ranked Peninsula Pirate women’s soccer team were shoveling snow.

A team that has “strength through unity” as its’ rally cry, turned that adversity into a victory the very next day, shutting out Lane 3-0 in the Northwest Athletic Conference Quarterfinal Playoff on a snow-cleared Sigmar Field to advance to the NWAC Final Four for an unprecedented seventh straight year.

The defending NWAC champions will face Tacoma, a 3-2 quarterfinal winner over Walla Walla, at 12:30 Friday at Starfire Sports in Tukwila in the first of two semifinal matches. The second one matching Highline against Clark is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The early winter snowstorm that fell on Port Angeles on Friday morning left Sigmar Field buried. With other options to clear the field not panning out, the Pirates took to snow shovels and worked alongside Peninsula’s facilities crew to remove the 71,280 square feet of snow.

“It was important that we have a good playing surface for an NWAC playoff,” said Athletic Director Rick Ross. “I was very impressed by this team’s willingness to help us get it done. It shows how much pride they have in their facility and their program – and it also shows their desire to play at home.”

Pirate fans were thankful the match was able to be played at home - and braved the cold weather in force to cheer on their team.

Peninsula was dominating the ball throughout the early going, but didn’t find the net until the 41st minute when Jordyn DiCintio placed a corner kick to the far post where a charging Samantha Guzman was there to head it into the goal. It was the seventh goal of the season for Guzman, a Pirate defender, and it was an NWAC-leading 28th assist for DiCintio.

The Pirates then added insurance goals in the second half, the first coming from Janis Martinez-Ortiz 15 minutes in, and the second from Taylor Graham at the 76-minute mark.

For the match, Peninsula outshot Lane 18-7, but the Titans had few opportunities against the tough Pirate back line of Guzman, Sarah Reiber, Emelie Small, Halle Watson – and an especially outstanding performance by Malia Brudvik.

Goal keeper Akari Hoshino picked up her seventh shutout.