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June 6, 2010 at 5:02 PM

Kitsap Pumas lose first game to Portland U23s (via release)

Timber U23s Down Pumas, Take Control Of Northwest Division

Hillsboro, Ore. – On a night when sole possession of first place was on the line, the Kitsap Pumas’ hopes of a perfect season were dashed.

The undefeated Portland Timbers U23 received goals from Brent Richards, Brian Ramsey and Richard Abrego en route to a 3-0 win and first place in the Premier Development League’s Northwest Division to the delight of 527 fans – many of whom traveled from Kitsap – on a warm Saturday evening at Hare Stadium in Hillsboro, Ore.

It was the first loss of the season for the Pumas (5-1-0), who entered the match tied with Portland for first place.

“They outplayed us,” said goalkeeper Dustyn Brim, who was under duress much of the game. “They were the better team tonight, no doubt in my mind about it. Our will was there, but we were just not quick enough to the ball.”

Portland broke a scoreless tie in the 26th-minute, when midfielder Roberto Farfan sent a perfect through-ball to a streaking Brent Richards, who took one touch and tucked a shot just inside the left post on a low, left-footed strike from about 20 yards out.

That created the first deficit of the season for the Pumas, who entered the game having outscored their opponents 16-1. It also was the fourth goal this year for Richards, who leads Portland in goals with four.

“The problem was, we let him square up on us,” Brim said. “But it was a great ball and a great finish. We can’t let that ball get through in the first place.”

Five minutes after halftime and a physical first half, the Timbers U23 doubled their lead on a goal from Ramsey, who received a cross on the right side of the box and sent in a shot from just three feet away, beating Brim to the right post.

The Pumas looked uncharacteristically out of sync, at times, on defense. First-year player Jamel Wallace started in the back for the first time this season.

Abrego finished the scoring in the 81st-minute.

“They put away their chances,” Kitsap coach Peter Fewing said. “They were skillful with the ball, very dangerous.”

Portland entered the evening unbeaten at home during regular-season matches (9-0-2) since joining the Premier Development League – with its lone loss on home turf coming against the former Seattle Wolves in the 2009 playoffs.

The 10th win in front of a home crowd may have been the biggest of them all.

“The key for us tonight was to match their intensity,” Portland coach Jim Rilatt said. “They are a good team and a physical team.”

This may have been the most physical game of the season for both sides, with five yellow cards being handed out – three to Kitsap.

The Pumas are now 1-1-1 all-time against the Timbers U23 after going earning a win and a draw in two matches last season.

Despite the outcome, Kitsap remains in good position to win its second division title in as many seasons.

“Very rarely will you go a whole season undefeated,” Brim said. “It’s how you get up after you take those knocks, that’s the difference between finishing in first, or in second or third.”

Kitsap’s next match is also on the road against the Abbotsford Mariners (XXX) in a rematch of a game two weeks ago in which the Pumas defeated the Mariners 4-1 at Bremerton.

The club’s next home game is at 7 p.m. June 15 against the Bay Area Ambassadors FC of San Francisco. That match is a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup first-round game as the Pumas look to advance to the second round for the first time in club history. Last season Kitsap hosted the Portland Timbers of the United Soccer Leagues First Division in an opening round game that attracted more than 2,000 fans, losing 3-0 in a match that was closer than the scoreboard indicated.

Tickets to the Cup match are still available, as are all other single-game tickets. They can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com or by contacting club headquarters, (360) 377-6008.

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