Pirates hoping to tap into their 'strength' at NWAC Final Four | Peninsula College Athletics

Pirates hoping to tap into their 'strength' at NWAC Final Four

PORT ANGELES – “Strength Through Unity” is the battle cry of the 2016 Peninsula College women’s soccer team, a team that departs Thursday for the Northwest Athletic Conference Final Four.

A good argument could also be made for “strength in numbers.”

Head coach Kanyon Anderson carries 29 players on his active roster – and all 29 have not only played significant minutes, but 21 of them have scored goals.

“Depth allows us to protect bodies,” Anderson said. “Playing two games a week, without a bye for eight weeks is a brutal schedule.”

The Pirates use their depth to overcome injuries, which can be significant in collegiate soccer, as demonstrated by their counterparts, the NWAC’s top-ranked Peninsula men, who fell to Tacoma in a quarterfinal playoff Saturday in a match that saw five starters miss action due to injuries.

The Pirate women have had their share of injuries over the season as well, but are healthier now than they’ve been since August.

Coach Anderson hopes to harness the strength of his roster, that is not only united and deep, but also very talented, to bring home a championship trophy this weekend.

Peninsula opens the NWAC championship finals with a 12:30 semifinal match Friday against North Idaho. Pirate fans are expected to gather on campus for a send-off at 8 a.m on Thursday morning.

The Pirates (17-1-1) are ranked No. 1 in the NWAC and No. 12 in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division I Junior College Poll. They won their sixth straight region championship, they are playing in the sixth straight Final Four, and they completed their sixth straight season at Sigmar Field where they have never lost a home soccer match.

North Idaho is ranked No. 6 in the final NWAC poll, the Cardinals are not nationally ranked, and the Coeur d’alene women only last year returned to the NWAC following several years where they played in the National Junior College Athletic Association.  Prior to that, the Cards won NWAC women’s soccer championships in 2003 and 2001.

The Pirates have scored 89 goals and allowed just five in 19 matches this season. They have 16 shutouts.

North Idaho, a team that finished second in the East Region behind defending NWAC champion Spokane, has scored 48 goals, given up just 13, and recorded nine shutouts.

Both teams share the scoring load among their rosters. Hoku Afong leads the Pirates with 15 goals, followed by Sydney Warren with 11, Ellie Small with eight, Marriah Perez seven and Maddy Parton six. Emily Aspden and Jocelyn Cook-Cox lead NIC with nine each, followed by Sterling Healy with seven and Megan Lowery with six.

“North Idaho is good,” Anderson said. “They are stronger than any team in the South and they deserve to be at the finals. We will need to play well to win, but we are confident that we have a chance to advance to the finals.”

The Pirates have been training for this weekend as a unit since August.

“We talk about our training sessions being the most important aspect of what we do,” Anderson said. “Training requires full effort from every player and this is the source of our pride.  We also focus on the successes of the men's team, the basketball program, the college, the classroom, the local high school programs, and the youth programs.”

He said they approach the season and the playoffs the same way.

“One game at a time, with an awareness that these games do not define our vision of success, Anderson said. “Our successes are based on the work we have done for the last three months and what we do for the next six months.”