Sports

Pirates clinch playoff berth, top T-Birds

One step closer to the postseason - but one big hurdle on the horizon.

Peninsula's Pirates locked up a playoff seed last week with a key win at Highline on Oct. 28, setting up the biggest game of the season.

Peninsula (6-2-3 in division play, 10-4-4 overall) hosts second-place Bellevue (6-2-3, 10-4-3) at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, with the NWAACC West division title in the balance.

The Pirates may consider the game a must-win if they want the division title and all-important NWAACC playoffs first-round bye. Although the Pirates could wind up in a tie with Bellevue and be considered West division co-champions, Bellevue wins the seeding for the top playoff seed based on a predetermined tiebreaker.

The Bulldogs topped Tacoma 3-1 on Saturday, once again tying Peninsula for the division lead.

"They just like to attack, attack, attack," Peninsula coach Andrew Chapman said, considering this week's key showdown. "They move the ball quick and move toward the goal. We did pretty good (defending that) the first time."

That first time was Oct. 17 when, after giving up an early goal, Peninsula came back to tie Bellevue 1-1 on the Bulldog's home turf.

Now it's back in Port Angeles, where the Pirates host Bellevue on Wednesday and Tacoma on Saturday, Nov. 7, two must-win games for the division champ hopefuls.

"We definitely do like our chances at home, in front of our home crowd," Chapman said. "It is going to be an intense game."

Peninsula got a big boost last week with a come-from-behind, 3-1 win at Highline.

After giving up a goal to Thunderbird Lonnie Wells at the 10-minute mark, a rebound off a penalty kick, the Pirates tied it a few minutes before halftime when Omar Anderson took a feed from John Troka and put it past the Highline keeper for a 1-1 halftime tie.

That was the score until the 80-minute mark, when Troka took a Patrick Wolverton pass and netted his seventh score of the 2009 campaign. It proved to be the game-winner.

Lucas Costa gave the Pirates some insurance with five minutes on the clock, taking the assist from Williams.

Peninsula out-shot Highline 14-9.

P.C. keeper Jase Hall recorded eight saves in the win.

"Our boys played a great second half," Chapman said. "I think, as the game gets later on, the guys get more and more fired up."

The Pirates did get a spot of bad news when leading assist man Aaron Oppeltz was involved in a head-to-head collision and was taken to the hospital. Chapman said the freshman defender received 10 stitches.

"It looks like he's going to be all right," the Peninsula coach said.

Although the doctor said Oppeltz is able to play this season, Chapman said he'll be extra careful with how quickly Oppeltz comes back.

That makes getting a top seed and first-round bye all the more important, giving Oppeltz more time to heal.

"It (the bye) is very huge for us (but) either way, it works," Chapman said. "We will host a playoff game."

The NWAACC playoffs begin Nov. 11.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

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