Sports

Pirate men aim for first crown

When coach Andrew Chapman and his squad take the field this fall, fans may notice the average Pirate is bigger than in previous years.

But the expectations of another winning season and playoff berth loom even larger.

Peninsula's men are aiming for a sixth consecutive playoff berth after posting the best streak in school history, highlighted by fourth-place finishes in 2007 and 2008.

Last season, Peninsula racked up a 11-4-5 record before winning one of two games in the NWAACC tourney.

As with every season at a two-year school, the job of rebuilding P.C.'s men's roster is a serious undertaking. Chapman and coaches lost a slew sophomores from 2009 - including all-stars Steve Williams, division MVP Steve Prevost and top keeper Jase Hall - and saw 34 players vie for 27 roster spots in mid-August.

That list of recruits includes 22 out-of-state players, five of those from out-of-country.

And they are big, Chapman says, averaging over 6 feet tall.

"Some players just fell into our lap that were a little bigger than we expected," he says. "But we also knew we needed to find some size if we wanted to compete, so we went looking for it."

With 20 new players hitting the field this season, Peninsula coaches are looking to returning sophomores to take the lead on the field. The Pirates return top keeper Alec Risk, an all-star keeper in 2008 who racked up five shutouts that season who missed all of 2009 with an injury

"We are looking to him for some leadership qualities," Chapman said.

The Peninsula coach says he'll look to Aaron Oppeltz and Brent Ricigliano, starters in 2009, to help lead as well. Oppeltz tied for the team lead with eight assists while Ricigliano was fourth on the team with four goals.

Not that any kind of lineup is set in stone, Chapman says, noting that no positions are set.

"We have two scrimmage games and four non-league games to figure that out," he says.

We are hoping to stay healthy and to continue to play hard. If this happens we believe this team will do really well."

Since 205, the Pirates have become a force in the NWAACC West division. Peninsula has won season totals of 11, six, 14, 14 and 12 wins in successive seasons.

"When we recruit the players as coaches we instill that (expectation of winning) in them then," Chapman says. "We let them know about our tradition and what we expect from them. When they get here, the sophomores on the team then reinforce what we have been saying."

Adding to the adjustment time with their new teammates, Pirate sophomores are looking to playing on a brand new turf field at Peninsula College later this fall. Until the million-dollar-plus turf is ready for action, the Pirate men and women are slated to play home games at Civic Field, a natural grass surface like their old pitch.

"Any time you go from grass to turf or even grass to grass, you have to be ready for a learning period," Chapman says. "We do have a good amount of players on our team who played their high school seasons on turf, so it won't anything new. But we do expect it to take us a little while to get adjusted to it. Civic is a slow pitch and the turf will be fast (so) it will take time for sure."

Peninsula opened their preseason with a contest at the University of Victoria on Aug. 24.

The Pirates are back in action at home (Civic Field) at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 against Skagit Valley. Peninsula plays at Everett on Aug. 31.



Peninsula College men's soccer

Head coach: Andrew Chapman (seventh year)

Returning players: Patrick Wolverton, Alec Risk, Lucas Costa, Brent Ricigliano, Jibril Gude, Aaron Oppeltz

Top newcomers: Jared Wilson, Jeff Mullen, Dustin Walsh, Parker Vacura, Adam Skowron

Key dates: Sept. 2 vs. Whatcom, Sept. 25 at Pierce, Oct. 2 vs. Chemeketa, Oct. 16 vs. Bellevue, Oct. 27 vs. Highline, Nov. 3 at Bellevue

Outlook: It's hard to bet against the Pirates, even if there are only about a half-dozen returning players to last year's playoff squad. Chapman seems to recruit as well as any in the NWAACC and his pull from outside the state and the country indicates P.C. is looking healthy in its hopes for another Final Four appearance.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.



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