Gateway: Sports

For Peninsula High soccer, center forward Grande is the straw that stirs the drink

Peninsula’s Madison Grande plays a ball through to a teammate against Yelm on Thursday night.
Peninsula’s Madison Grande plays a ball through to a teammate against Yelm on Thursday night.

The Peninsula High School girls soccer team is still squarely in the picture for the No. 2 spot in the standings in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.

The Seahawks currently sit in fourth place with a 6-3-1 record, behind Gig Harbor (10-0), Timberline (7-2-1) and North Thurston (7-3-0).

The Seahawks are at their best when Concordia University bound center forward Madison Grande is getting plenty of touches and is involved in the attack.

The senior leads the team with 12 goals.

“She’s very dynamic and she’s smart so she can move the ball,” said Peninsula coach Jenny Buys. “She knows how to change her speed. I think she’s going to have a great college career.”

Grande is a handful in the middle of the final third for opponents, with her ability to hold the ball, shoot and score from distance, turn quickly and distribute the ball out wide to teammates.

“She brings a lot of movement throughout the middle,” said teammate Ashleigh Bernhard. “It brings us all together as one. It moves us around. And she has a pretty good shot from distance, too. We use her a lot, especially when we’re moving outside. We’ll go to her and she switches it, or she turns it plays it to one of us.”

But Peninsula is at its best when Grande isn’t the sole focal point of the attack.

“We try to pass the ball around, play more to feet,” Grande said. “We work our sides well and get crosses in.”

When everyone is involved in the attack, Peninsula can score in a variety of ways, from a handful of different players.

“Making sure we actually get the ball out of the middle has actually been the best for us this season,” Buys said. “Because we have Lena (Janson) and Madison in the middle together, that really shakes things up for us. I don’t think that plays always through Madison.

“When she gets it, she does a lot of wonderful things. But as a team, I don’t think that’s always our first goal. When we’re talking about it, it’s usually, ‘How do we get that ball outside and then get it back in?’”

Still, Peninsula will need Grande to be at her best in the final portion of the season and heading into the playoffs. She’s shown the ability to make things happen, and the Seahawks will likely go as far into the postseason as Grande can take them.

If Peninsula’s defense can get healthy, the Seahawks could be a tough out in the playoffs.

“We have a lot of confidence in the attack,” Grande said. “We have some defensive players out. I think we could be very good once everyone is back. We’re definitely hoping to go a ways in state.”