FEDERAL WAY – Noah Hanks was running out of chances in Wednesday's nights game against Decatur. The senior forward had a few chances to give Peninsula the go-ahead goal, but couldn't quite find the back of the net. Then, in double overtime, in the game's final seconds, Hanks won a ball on a hard challenge from 30 yards out, beat a man, and sailed the ball beautifully over the goalie's head for the game winning goal, lifting Peninsula to a hard-fought, rain-soaked 3-2 victory.
“Coach just said, 'Beat him,'” Hanks said. “So I beat the first guy, split the two, beat the next guy and the guy came out for the challenge, I went in strong, the ball went my way and I finally put one in the back of the net for the game.”
Hanks said he wished he could have capitalized on earlier opportunities, but he was obviously pleased with the end result.
“It feels good,” Lawson said. “I really struggle with finishing so it felt good to finally put one away. It should've came sooner, but it was a good one.”
Peninsula head coach Brian Lawson had high praise for his senior captain, who has exemplified the skill, leadership and toughness Lawson would like the younger players to emulate. Lawson encouraged Hanks to remain confident in his striking ability.
“In any attacking position, it's just a confidence deal, and I was on him most of the game of just, 'Maintain that confidence. It's coming.' And sure enough, it did. He never quit. It would be easy to play for a draw or play for penalties there but we kept pressing and we got in behind them, and he did what he does best and finished a goal for us.”
For the most part, the Seahawks have been a second half team this season, which wasn't the case on Wednesday night. Peninsula stormed out to an early 2-0 lead in the first half on goals from sophomore Andrew Campbell and freshman Mason Haubrich.
“We like to send one of our biggest central backs forward to get in, and Bradley Keller had a huge, huge wins in the air for us tonight,” Lawson said. “He's a big piece of those set piece components. He got up on the first one and knocked it down and we kind of just tucked it in.”
Lawson added that the Seahawks are beginning to execute the strategies well.
“I also want to commend them for implementing what we've been training,” Lawson said. “It's not just set pieces, it's tactically as well. We're finally starting to execute, and we're an incredibly young team, so they're finally learning a little bit what they're capable of and what it takes to play out here and they showed it tonight.”
Decatur didn't go away quietly though, as the Gators tacked on two goals in the second half to equalize. The Seahawks' defense began missing some assignments, showed some sign of fatigue, and were simply sloppy at times.
“I think you get comfortable when you're up two,” Lawson said. “I think we lost track of some runners and let them get in behind us on a couple, and just some some sloppy clearances that we need to clean up a little bit, and we'll talk about that and we'll continue to work on that, but overall, I thought, defensively, I thought we did a great job tonight. I ask a lot out of my back four and they performed tonight.”
The Seahawks missed the playoffs last year and are still in the hunt for a spot this season.
“That's our goal,” Lawson said. “Tonight's win puts us in a great spot to make that happen, and we're just gonna keep moving forward and keep doing what we're doing and keep training and go out next Monday and continue getting results.”
Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.