Kitsap Pumas 2, Gonzaga University 0
Bainbridge Island, Wash. – (AP) – After playing on Bainbridge Island for the first time ever, the Kitsap Pumas are still perfect in 2010.
First-year player Tye Perdido scored in the 24th minute and fellow newcomer Todd Wallenius added a goal in the 82nd minute, leading Kitsap to a 2-0 preseason victory over Gonzaga University on a windy Saturday afternoon in front of 246 fans at Bainbridge High School’s Memorial Stadium.
Kitsap’s fourth-consecutive preseason victory was especially gratifying for Perdido, a married man who trains with Gonzaga and commuted between Spokane and Kitsap until this past week. The 21-year-old forward knew many of the Bulldogs’ defensive tendencies before the game even started.
“It was nice because I didn’t really have to break them down,” he said. “I’m familiar with their style.”
That was evident throughout the first half as Perdido and first-year forward Robby Christner created numerous scoring opportunities, benefiting from the deft passing of Bahamian midfielder Cameron Hepple.
After letting two scoring opportunities slip in the 5th and 6th minutes, Perdido capitalized in the 24th when Hepple drove a blistering cross into the box from 35 yards out.Perdido, who was open near the right post, headed the ball back across the box to the far side, and with goalkeeper Andrew Hickman out of position, the ball trickled across the line. Midfielder Nik Besagno tapped the ball inside the left post to ensure the tally.
“I’m giving that goal to Tye,” said Besagno, also in his first year with Kitsap. “He had a great touch on the ball and I was just there enough to make sure it went in. I think it was across the line when I touched it.”
The goal proved to be enough for the Pumas, who controlled possession most of the first half and well into the second.
“Since we were so strong in the middle third of the field,: said Peter Fewing, the Pumas’ first-year coach, “I don’t think our defense was tested too much.”
The Pumas maintained the offensive pressure after halftime and eventually substituted Perdido, Hepple and Christner, who hit the left post on a shot in the first half.
Wallenius’ goal in the 82nd minute was the decisive score, giving the club a two-goal advantage and the eventual win.
“There were a lot of positive signs out there today,” Besagno said. “The guys have been working hard, and when you do that, good things happen.”
Christner nearly cushioned the Pumas’ lead before halftime on a counterattack in the 20th-minute off a Gonzaga free kick. Dribbling freely down the right side, he got to about 10-yards our and sent a nice cross to Kitsap defender Mark Lee – who was wide open in front of the net, but stumbled and lost his footing, then was called for a handball in front of the goal.
The Pumas have three more friendlies before their regular-season opener at Yakima on May 1. The club faces Seattle University next week (closed), hosts the University of Washington April 24 (public), then concludes the preseason schedule against Seattle Pacific University (closed) April 26.
Fewing was happy with the victory, but he wants the club to focus on its upcoming schedule and continue to improve each day. He said the team is in a good routine now, with two training sessions a week to go with three regular practices and the match schedule.
In addition to Perdido, Hepple and Christner, Fewing was impressed with the performances of newcomer Greg Miley, who had two near-goals off the bench in the second half, and Wallenius.
“We have a good team,” Fewing said. “But you take a big win and throw it behind you – never get too high, never get too low.”
The Pumas continue their preseason schedule with a match against the University of Washington at 5 p.m. April 24 at Bremerton High School’s Memorial Stadium
Season tickets are on sale now, along with Flex Ticket Packages.