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May 24, 2010 at 9:05 AM

Kitsap Pumas beat Washington Crossfire 2-0 and qualify for the U.S. Open Cup (release and video)

Kitsap shuts out Washington, Secures U.S. Open Cup Berth For Second-Straight Year

Team remains unbeaten, untied and has not allowed a goal in 2010 regular season

Bremerton, Wash. – Tonight in the second half, Kitsap Pumas midfielder David Gray found the back of the net before he’d even worked up a sweat.

Less than 30 seconds after coming off the bench, Gray scored in the 59th-minute to lead the Kitsap to a 2-0 victory over Washington Crossfire in front of 605 fans on a damp evening at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.

Kitsap secured its second-consecutive berth in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with the win, remaining undefeated, untied and unscoredupon this season – and atop the Northwest Division standings.

“It’s excellent,” said Gray, a first-year player from Scotland who replaced John Fishbaugher on the right wing in the 58th-minute – and took little time to score his first goal of the season. “We’ll get a chance to face some good teams in the Cup and we’ll see how far we can go.”

If the club continues to play the way it has en route to a 4-0-0 record through four games, there’s no telling how far it can go in the 97th-annual Cup, which last year included 24 professional and 16 amateur teams.

The Pumas have yet to allow a regular-season goal, outscoring their opponents 12-0 behind the goalkeeping of returning all-league player Dustyn Brim, who played all 90 minutes against the Crossfire.

Earning a berth in the Open Cup was a goal the club set before the season started.

“We’re in the spot we wanted to be in, which is nice,” Kitsap coach Peter Fewing said.

Yet it wasn’t quite certain the Pumas would secure the victory until Gray gave the club a two-goal lead.

Gray received a perfectly placed cross from Pumas’ left wing Cameron Hepple, who sent the ball toward the right post from 35-yards out, and drilled a one-timer with his right foot less than three yards from the mouth of the goal.

“It was a great ball from Cameron and it bounced just the right way for me,” Gray said.

Gray’s goal cushioned a lead the Pumas established in the 2nd-minute, when Mark Lee tallied his second goal of the season on a ball that slipped through the hands of Crossfire ‘keeper Chris Blais.

Lee, who a minute earlier had been slow to get up following a tackle that earned Crossfire midfielder Nick James a yellow card, deflected the ball toward the goal in traffic. With the field and ball slick from rain, Blais let the ball slip through his hands and it rolled across the scoring line.

“That was unlucky for them and lucky for us,” Fewing said. “Sometimes this is a game of luck, and that put them (the Crossfire) down going into halftime.”

The Pumas, meanwhile, continue to head in the right direction.

Their opponent for the first-round of the Open Cup has yet to be determined, nor has the date or place the match will be played, but it is a big accomplishment for a franchise in its second year of existence.

Last June, the Pumas hosted an Open Cup game against the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division. The match attracted more than 2,300 fans to Memorial Stadium and garnered attention across the Pacific Northwest.

“That’s fun,” Fewing said of clinching the berth. “It’s something that we talked about all preseason.”

The opponent for the Pumsas first-round Cup matchup is yet to be determined. Play in the in-season tournament begins most likely mid-week during the first week in June.

“We will do everything we can to bring that match to Kitsap,” said executive director Ben Pecora. “This is another opportunity for the community – and this special team – to shine.”

Kitsap next hosts the Abbotsford Mariners at 7:30 p.m. May 29 in the club’s third-consecutive home match on the current home stand. Tickets remain available online, by phone and at team headquarters.

* * *

Here’s some video courtesy of the Seattle Soccer Examiner.


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