Pirates finish 2016 unbeaten, but fall short of NWAC repeat | Peninsula College Athletics

Pirates finish 2016 unbeaten, but fall short of NWAC repeat

PORT ANGELES – The Peninsula Pirates had one of the best men’s soccer seasons in the College’s storied history, officially going unbeaten with a 16-0-3 record, but ironically, they won’t be NWAC champions.

The NWAC’s top-ranked Pirates, who rose to No. 7 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division I Junior College Soccer Poll, tied Tacoma 2-2 through regulation and two overtime periods before coming up short in a wild penalty kick shootout to bring a sad end to Saturday’s NWAC Quarterfinal Playoff.

In the soccer world, that quarterfinal outcome is recorded as a tie, but the shootout sends fourth-ranked Tacoma on to the NWAC Final Four.

The Pirates, who won NWAC titles in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015, bowed out in the quarterfinal round this year - and it was a talented Tacoma team combined with some untimely injuries that spelled their demise.

“Not one team beat us in 90 minutes all season long,” head coach Cale Rodriguez told the Peninsula Daily News. He went on to say "to be champions, you have to be lucky."

His Pirates’ unbeaten season is second only to the 2013 NWAC champion PC men’s team that went 21-0-2.

Rodriguez added, "to be champions, you have to be lucky."

The 2016, team, however, was unlucky, if not "snake bitten" by injuries, playing without starting defender Demar Stewart, the fastest player on the PC roster, who was out with a hamstring injury. The Pirates also lost leading scorer Cesar Gervacio, who’s 13 goals ranked fourth in the NWAC, to an injury early in the match, as well as starting keeper Brannon Dwyer, starting defender and team captain Jose Soto, and starting defender Michael Day, to injuries in the second half.

Dwyer hobbled back onto the field for what proved to be a very dramatic penalty kick shootout, but when Tacoma emerged the victor in the first round of extra attempts, Pirate players and fans were stunned by the early end to their season.

Peninsula had gone up 1-0 on a great transition goal that saw Michael Day speed down the center of the field, draw some defenders, and then lay out a perfect through ball for teammate Alex Ramos, who put it in the back of the net, 24 minutes into the match.

That score stood through halftime, but the Titans answered just two minutes into the second half when the Pirates struggled to clear a ball and Adrian Correa scored to tie it at 1-1.

The Pirates went back in front at the 73-minute mark, when Carrillo scored, this time assisted by Ramos.

Tacoma, however, came up with the equalizer in the 78th minute on a score by Mackenzie Smith.

The match ended 2-2 and neither team could score in a pair of 10-minute overtime periods, setting up the dramatic shootout that inevitably sent the Titans on to the Final Four.

Photo by Jay Cline