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June 16, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Kitsap Pumas advance in U.S. Open Cup with 4-2 win

Kitsap beat the Bay Area Ambassadors 4-2 on Tuesday to set up a second-round clash with Portland. Should be an interesting one. Here’s the Pumas’ recap via release:

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PUMAS NOT GOOD HOSTS TO AMBASSADORS, ADVANCE TO US OPEN CUP SECOND ROUND WITH WIN

BREMERTON, Wash. – It took longer than they wanted, but the Kitsap Pumas finally made history Tuesday night with a 4-2 win over the Bay Area Ambassadors in a first round U.S. Open Cup match at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.

It’s the first ever win for the Pumas in the tournament, moving them on to the second round and a rematch of last year’s first round matchup against the Portland Timbers next Tuesday at 7 p.m. Kitsap defeated the Timbers 3-2 in a preseason game April 2. It’s also the first overtime game in Pumas history and the longest game in history.

Kitsap got the ball rolling in the fourth minute when Cameron Hepple found John Fishbaugher wide open just outside the goalie box for the easy score. It was the first goal for the Pumas in Open Cup play. The Pumas doubled its lead in the 16th minute when Robbie Christner took control of a corner kick and made an off balance pass to an onrushing Taylor Hyde for his first goal of the season.

Christner nearly increased the lead early in the second half with two good attempts on goal but was shut down by Ambassadors goalkeeper Sergio Valle.

“If we would have scored, it would have made a big difference,” head coach Pete Fewing said.

The missed chances loomed large as the Bay Area got on the board in the 71st minute as Javier Ayala Hill received a through ball and put a shot on goal that went off the crossbar, but Phil Da Silva put in the rebound.

Six minutes later, Pedro Osorio got past the Kitsap back line and put in a ball to Da Silva that found the back of the net. It appeared Osorio was clearly offside, but the flag stayed down.

“To see two go in like that, it’s scary,” Stephen Phillips said. Fewing said he felt the goals by the Ambassadors coming.

“Then it becomes a slugfest,” he said. “We became a little lackadaisical and they were running at us and we were slow to recover.”

Staples, who got the start in goal due to Dustyn Brim being out with a back injury, said they did let up a bit in the second half.

“They are good on their counter (attacks) and that’s what got us,” he said.

But Phillips, who came on as a sub in the 80th minute, put in the game winner in the 96th minute when he caught Valle coming out early and sent a roller past him that made it over the line.

“It was a perfect ball by Dave (Gray) and I caught him running out,” he said. Staples said they felt a goal was coming after the way they finished the second half with an aggressive approach toward the goal. They nearly had the winner in stoppage time in the second half but Hepple and Jason Cascio couldn’t put the ball away off a David Gray corner kick before Valle made the save.

“It was a feeling of ‘Finally,'” Staples said. “We were knocking on the door over and over and we finally capitalized on that. That’s why we put Steven in. He’s just a master of finishing.”

Fishbaugher rounded out the scoring in the second overtime with a good first touch off a ball from Gray, then quickly worked a shot past Valle. He nearly had a third goal a few minutes later for the first ever hat trick in Pumas history, but Valle made another great stop.

“We have a very deep squad in a lot of positions,” Fishbaugher said. “It helps to have defenders that can score and forwards coming off the bench that work hard.”

Phillips gave credit to the squad for hanging in there and not hanging its head after the second goal.

“Our team has a lot of heart,” he said. “We just kept positive and kept at it.”

Fewing said they’ll change the starting lineup around for Saturday’s game against Spokane and try to give some starters some rest.

“We’ve got the rhythm of the season down,” he said. “Now we just have to keep managing the team.”

Staples said they’ll be ready for the Timbers.

“That is ‘the’ game to focus on right now,” he said. “There’ll be a lot riding on it.”

The Pumas and Long Island are now the only USL teams remaining in the Open Cup according to league reports.

Kitsap hosts Spokane Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for both contests are still available. Visit www.brownpapertickets.com or call 360 – 377-6008.

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