Around the league, people weren’t sure what to expect from this year’s Peninsula High School boys soccer team after the Seahawks had to replace nearly its entire starting 11 from a season ago. First-year coach Alec Moore knew his team was a mystery but highly motivated to show what they could do.
“It was a little bit of a chip on their shoulders,” Moore said. “There were some articles that came out, that said they weren’t really sure what the expectation is for this team. We used that as motivation. … Taking that motivation out on the field really spurred the players to prove some people wrong.”
Through seven league games, the unknown Seahawks are making quite a name for themselves. Peninsula is 4-1-2 and sits in first place in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
That may be a surprise to some in the league, it’s not to Moore.
“It’s really about the spirit and mentality of the team,” Moore said. “They’ve not been told the fact that a lot of them are sophomores and should have low expectations for themselves. … Credit to them for their attitude. They don’t want to use this as a development year.”
With only one senior on the entire varsity roster, it would be easy (and reasonable) to view this as a rebuilding year for the Seahawks. But the players have no interest in a rebuild.
“They don’t have that in them,” Moore said. “They want it now.”
Like when Peninsula earned a 1-1 draw against league favorite Gig Harbor on April 4, a good result considering the Tides’ run recent at the top of the league.
“A lot of parents, people watching were saying that that’s a good result,” Moore said. “But the boys wanted to win that one. They take personal responsibility and initiative to take the team to a higher standard.”
It hasn’t been a perfect season for Peninsula, with a 3-2 loss to Shelton on March 14 in the league opener and a disappointing 2-2 draw to Timberline on April 2. Still, the Seahawks have had plenty more good results than bad, including a 5-0 clobbering of North Thurston on March 19 — perhaps not coincidentally, the game immediately following the loss to Shelton.
“There’s always the temptation to make excuses about the field condition, the referees, etc.,” Moore said. “But Shelton played a really good game. The boys weren’t looking for excuses. They looked internally and said, ‘We need to get better.’”
Junior Evan Janson, who had difficulty finding playing time last year behind Peninsula’s senior players, has been a revelation this year, scoring a team-leading nine goals, including back-to-back hat tricks in wins against North Thurston and Yelm.
Heading into the second half of the season, the danger is a potential trap that has played out in high school sports before: A team surprises around the league, gets off to a hot start, but then falters down the stretch.
Moore is working hard to make sure this Peninsula team’s story has a happier ending.
“The key is to focus on fighting for each other,” Moore said. “It’s about everyone playing for each other. That’s a sustainable model that leads to more results. It has to be everyone willing to do their part for the success of the team. It’s really something you can carry on into your life in the future. The way that Peninsula sustains this, is to keep fighting for each other and not make it about personal success.”
Peninsula continues league play with a road matchup against North Thurston at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11 at South Sound Stadium in Lacey.