Soccer title goes to Peninsula women after 110 minute thriller

By John William Howard

TUKWILA, Wash. – Peninsula keeper Denae Brooks stood with her heels on the goal line, her Pirates up 3-2 in penalty kicks after a full 90 minutes and two sudden death overtimes. Spokane’s Alli Floyd approached the ball and sent into the waiting hands of Brooks, sealing Peninsula’s first ever women’s soccer title.

Evenly matched from start to finish, Spokane gained the advantage in the 16th minute. A Sasquatch player was taken down inside the 18 yard box, and the referee signaled for the early penalty kick. Gaby Kennedy stepped up to take the PK, and drilled the ball into the upper righthand corner to put Spokane on top.

Three minutes later, Spokane’s Lateashea Currie dropped to the turf holding her right leg after a challenge near midfield. Currie was helped off the field and straight to the trainers tent. She would return several minutes later, but in her absence Peninsula locked down on defense, hardly allowing Spokane across the center line.

In the 20 minutes that Currie was out, Peninsula took advantage of the substitution, but not their ample chances. Two corner kicks in the 29th minute were both cleared by Spokane, and a free kick a few feet outside Spokane’s 18 yard box was struck into the wall and booted out of the defensive third. Spokane wouldn’t have a strong chance until just before Currie came back to the field in the 39th minute, but the ball was easily handled by Brooks and cleared.

A few minutes later, the signal for the end of the first period came and Peninsula still trailed Spokane 1-0, despite two corners in the 45th minute. While Peninsula had more chances and a majority of the possession, the Sasquatch had the edge in first half shots at 4-2.

Spokane came back on to the pitch in the second half as thirsty as ever. Three minutes in, Kat Tsoukalas of Spokane sent a shot in towards the Peninsula goal, forcing Brooks to parry the shot past the right post and out for a corner. Nothing came of the opportunity, but moments later Spokane pressured Brooks into another save, and won yet another corner in the 50th minute. 

In the 60th minute, the Pirates finally struck back. Currie sent a powerful ball at Brooks, who knocked it down and sent Peninsula on the counter attack. On the race down the field, PC won a free kick two yards outside the penalty box. 

Briana Afoa stepped up to take the kick and sent it into the crossbar, where it ricocheted into the diving head of Peninsula’s Kendra Miner for the score. The goal gave Peninsula a much needed boost energy and brought the Pirate fans to life. 

From there, both Peninsula and Spokane went back and fourth, both with legitimate opportunities, but neither able to put one away and break the stalemate.  Just into the 89th minute, a challenge by Spokane’s Laura Seymour drew a red card, but Peninsula couldn’t capitalize and the whistle sounded for overtime.

Both defensive sides locked down in the first overtime, stifling chances for Peninsula’s Miner and Spokane’s Currie before the referee signaled the end of the first overtime. The second extra period went much the same way as the first. Peninsula had several opportunities, but couldn’t push past Spokane’s defensive line, and the two opponents went another ten minutes scoreless to push into penalty kicks. 

After a short break, the teams made their way to the center of the pitch, Spokane hand in hand with their keeper Asia Porter on the end. Brooks took up her position on the goal line, and Kennedy, who had the lone goal in the first half for Spokane, sent the first penalty kick into the left post and away.

Peninsula would score two PKs before Spokane finally got one into the net, a strike from Jamie Krediet. The Sasquatch scored another to draw within 4-2, but Brooks dove to save Floyds shot, and the Pirates swarmed the pitch, champions of 2012. 

Shots: Peninsula 6, Spokane 9

Players of the Match:
Denae Brooks (Peninsula) 8 saves
Gabby Kennedy (Spokane) 1 goal, two shots