PORT ANGELES – For the second time in his seven-year career as head women’s soccer coach, Peninsula College’s Kanyon Anderson was named Northwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Wednesday.
Anderson, who’s 2016 Pirates won the NWAC championship for the third time, also won that award in 2011. He will be presented with the award at the NWAC’s annual awards banquet in June.
The coach who was hired when Peninsula started a women’s soccer program in 2010, has won Region Coach of the Year awards in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016, as well as 2014 when he won the men’s soccer region coach of the year honor.
He credits his team for this year’s NWAC-wide recognition.
“First of all, it’s not too hard to win with this much talent,” he said. “We were loaded this year and literally had all-star caliber players coming off the bench at nearly every position. On top of the talent, this year’s team was so quick to pick up concepts that I found myself having to work hard just to stay ahead of them.”
And while Anderson downplays his success as a coach, it’s his hard work as a coach, and as a recruiter, that has led to his success.
“Kanyon is the premier women’s soccer coach in the NWAC and I’d put his credentials up against any junior college soccer coach in the country,” said Rick Ross, Associate Dean for Athletics and Student Life. “Because we play in the NWAC, he doesn’t get to compete for a national title, but the success he’s had over the last six years is unprecedented and ranks right up there with the best programs in the country. He’s very deserving of this honor.”
His 2016 Pirates finished with 19 wins, one loss and one tie. That record is the second best in the nation behind 25-0-1 Paradise Valley, the National Junior College Athletic Association national champions. Ironically, the Paradise Valley women’s only tie came to the NWAC’s third-place finisher Spokane in non-conference play.
Peninsula also ran off a streak of 18 straight wins in which they allowed only two goals. They finished the season scoring 93 goals and allowing six in 21 matches. It was also a team effort, as 21 of the 25 players who aren’t goal keepers scored goals.
TUKWILA – The Peninsula College Pirates, who won their third Northwest Athletic Conference championship Sunday, joined four other colleges as the winningest women’s soccer program in NWAC history.
The 2016 Pirates opened their season going 1-1-1 in non-conference play against the NWAC’s top three teams, giving up four goals. Peninsula then steamrolled the North Division, winning 15 straight matches to capture their sixth straight region title, before winning three straight playoff matches to claim the NWAC title. During that 18-game winning streak, the Pirates gave up a remarkable two goals.
“This is mentally the toughest team I have ever coached and this is the most enjoyable victory of my career,” said head coach Kanyon Anderson, adding that, as a relatively new head coach who won NWAC titles in 2012 and 2013, he was less able to relax and enjoy the moment.
Anderson was at the helm when Peninsula College launched the sport of women’s soccer in 2010. He took a team of 17 women, soccer players, basketball players and softball players, and managed a 6-7-6 season – and a second-place finish in the West Division.
Since that year, his Pirates have won 117 matches, lost 11 and tied seven, winning every league title (four in the West and two in the North where they moved in 2015), qualifying for the Final Four every year, and emerging as the strongest women’s community college soccer program in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. They are ranked No. 12 in the nation and almost guaranteed to move into the top 10 this week.
Peninsula’s three championships ties Columbia Basin, Tacoma, Clackamas and Walla Walla for the most in NWAC history.
“This team did everything we asked of them this year,” Anderson said. “They met every goal they set for themselves, so even when the game was tense, there was a sense that we would win.”
To say Sunday’s championship was tense might be an understatement – at least to the big crowd of Pirate fans who came from all over the West Coast, and Hawaii, to watch the icing applied to Peninsula’s championship cake.
Peninsula fans, who included a very vocal and supportive men’s soccer team, as well as members of the basketball program, outnumbered Highline fans who play their home matches at Starfire Stadium.
Those fans watched, on the edge of their seats, for two scoreless 45-minue halves, one scoreless overtime period, and five minutes into a second OT before the goal of the season ended the match and sent the Pirates into a celebration in front of the Highline goal.
That goal came when Ellie Small intercepted a Highline goal kick near midfield, heading the ball into the middle, where Bri Vallente sent a through ball to teammate Maddy Parton, creating a foot race between the freshman speedster and Highline's Tea Lopes. Parton won that race to the baseline, passed the ball back into the box through Lopes’s legs where Vallente was on a dead run toward the goal. The sophomore striker from Waikoloa, Hawaii slotted her shot between the near post and a diving Thunderbird keeper Rachel Thompson for the Pirates’ 93 goal of the season, setting off a celebration that lasted long into the damp Tukwila night.
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.