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College soccer: Pirates host playoffs games Saturday
The Pirate women, ranked 14th in the nation and No. 1 in the NWAACC, host Whatcom at 11 a.m. Saturday in the first half of an NWAACC quarterfinal playoff doubleheader.
The Pirate men, ranked eighth in the nation and also No. 1 in the NWAACC, host Edmonds at 1:15 p.m. The winners of those two playoff matches advance to the NWAACC Final Four, set for Nov. 16-17 at the Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila.
“Our teams play great soccer on every pitch, but especially at Sigmar Field,” Director of Athletics Rick Ross said. “We’re looking for a big crowd to come out and help them advance to the Final Four where we have all of the pieces in place to repeat as NWAACC champions. We are well coached, we’re mostly healthy, we’re talented, and we’re very focused. There are other great programs in the NWAACC who are gunning for us, but it all starts Saturday.
"If we can take care of business on our home turf, in front of our home fans, I like our chances next week at Starfire.”
Admission to Saturday’s playoff matches is free.
The Pirate men are making their seventh consecutive appearance in the NWAACC quarterfinals. A win would send them to the Final Four for the third straight year, where they have won two NWAACC championships (2010, 2012).
The Pirate men, riding the wave of their fifth straight West Division title, tackle Edmonds, the second-place finisher from the North division. The Tritons advanced to the Quarterfinal round with a 3-0 win over Pierce, the third-place finisher from the South, in a first round playoff game Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Edmonds.
The Pirates (18-0-2) are led by goal scoring sensation Alex Martinez, a sophomore from Reno, Nev., who leads the NWAACC in scoring with 26 goals. The Pirates, who lead the NWAACC in scoring as a team with 78 goals, have four players in the NWAACC’s top 15 in scoring, including Ash Apollon with 15 goals, Kalei Gallarde with eight and Christian Martinez with eight. Apollon leads the NWAACC in assists with 15, Erick Urzua is fourth with 10, Alex Martinez is sixth with nine, Gallarde ninth with seven and Victor Sanchez and Christian Martinez are close behind with six each.
Defensively, the Pirates lead the NWAACC with the fewest goals scored against them with 11. Pirate keeper Angel Guerra boasts an NWAACC-leading 10 shutouts, and he’s done it with the help of a talented defensive back line led by Mark Cottrell, Corbyn May, Zach Newton and Lachlan Bond.
The Tritons (9-7-3) are led by Zak Taylor, who has eight goals, and Miguel Medina, who has seven.
The Pirate women (17-2-0) are West Division champions for the third straight year and are unbeaten against NWAACC opponents this year. They will be making their third straight appearance in a quarterfinal playoff game in only the fourth year of the women’s soccer program.
They are 2-for-2 in their two previous appearances (both at home) and aim to return to the Final Four with a win Saturday against the Whatcom Orcas, who defeated Clark in an overtime shootout Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Bellingham.
The Orcas (10-1-8) finished second in the North division and were unbeaten against NWAACC schools in conference play, although they were tied seven times.
The Pirates have scored 83 goals this year, second only to Walla Walla’s 96, and have allowed 11, which is also second to Walla Walls’s six. The Orcas have a significantly less potent offense, scoring only 42 goals this year, but their defense is stout, giving up only 11.
The Pirates are led by Bri Afoa, a sophomore forward from Kapolei, Hawaii, who is in the hunt for the NWAACC scoring title with 23 goals. Bronte Fitzsimmons, of Victoria, B.C., leads the NWAACC in assists with 21 and also has 10 goals. The Pirates also have Shelbi Vienna-Hallam with eight goals, Mary Pierce with seven, Larkyn Nelson with six and Annie Armstrong and Brenda Torres with five each.
Defensively, the Pirates have three strong goalkeepers in Kasie Lough (five shutouts), Emily Flinn (four) and Laura Morgan (three). They too have a strong back line led by Vienna-Hallam, Miranda Sochacki, Misty Kaiwi, Dominique Niedziela and Paxton Rodocker.
Whatcom is led by Kylie Garrison’s 12 goals and 10 from Bailey Butcher.
All of Peninsula’s home matches feature a live video stream. Fans who can’t make the match can go to the Pirate Athletics web page and click on the UStream link here.