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Women's soccer: Pirates edge Sasquatch for first title
How high is that bar now?
In their first season, Peninsula's women defied long odds by earning a division title and hosting an NWAACC playoff game.
In their second season, they battled their way to the championship game and second place in the conference.
Their third season? How about NWAACC champions?
The Pirates got an unorthodox, game-tying score from Kendra Miner in the second half, fended off high-powered scorer Lateashea Currie and other Spokane attacks, survived two overtime periods and finally won their first championship via penalty kicks.
"We knew we had to complete this goal we set," Miner said following a raucous, on-the-field celebration. "We came out and had one of the best second halves."
Spokane took the lead in the 15th minute after Gaby Kennedy converted a penalty kick. Despite a number of chances — Briana Afoa in the 10th minute, Aubrey Briscoe in the 19th and Miner with a deep run just before the half — Peninsula's vaunted offense couldn't break through.
"I didn't think it would come to penalty kicks," Peninsula coach Kanyon Anderson said. "Spokane had some key injuries (including Currie, their top scorer) … and they had a tough semifinal. I had a hunch it would be a close game or maybe we could get ahead early (but) the penalty kick changed things."
Miner and Afoa, the tourney MVP, put the momentum in full reverse in the 59th minute. Afoa took a penalty kick from about 25 yards out that struck the crossbar. Miner, racing in toward the goal, body-blocked it in for the equalizer past Spokane keeper Asia Porter.
Annie Armstrong nearly put the Pirates ahead several minutes later with a shot that cleared the goal and Afoa had a chance with a free kick at 70 minutes. The closest chance was Deidra Woodward's lefty shot that Porter punched away.
A Spokane red card helped P.C. but the Sasquatch women, led by defender Sarah Nanny, kept the net clean.
That set up the penalty kick decider, putting the spotlight on Porter and Peninsula keeper Danae Brooks.
"Danae is really good at PKs," Anderson said. "I told the girls — not when Danae was around — that (she) is going to win it for us."
Brooks said she wasn't nervous heading into the penalty kick phase.
"That's part of it, part of being a goalkeeper," Brooks said. "I have all the confidence in the world in my team."
Kennedy, who put Spokane up in the first half, saw her first shot hit the crossbar and Brooks kick-saved a shot by Kat Tsoukalas. On the other side, Peninsula's Afoa and Sydney Bullington both converted shots to put P.C. up 2-0. The teams traded scores, and Spokane got within 3-2 when Porter made a key stop on an Armstrong shot.
But Spokane, needing a score and a P.C. miss, saw its title hopes fall short with another Brooks save.
"I'm really happy for the girls," Anderson said. Particularly, he noted, after seeing three key players on the Pirate roster go down with injuries.
"We talked about embracing adversity," Anderson said. "That's one of our key components. When things went wrong, we didn't spend too much time thinking about what should have happened."
"When we win the championship," Anderson told his players, "it will be part of that list of things we overcame."
Miner said the Pirates were able to come this far — two title game berths in as many seasons and a No. 11 national ranking — because of who's in charge.
"Great coaching staff," she said. "(Kanyon) just recruits very talented people and very talented players."
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.