Pumas Start Late, Cruise Past Spokane
US Open Cup match looms Tuesday night
Bremerton, Wash. – The Kitsap Pumas may have played their worst first half of the season, but that didn’t stop them from dismantling another league opponent.
Despite hitting the post twice and the crossbar once, the Pumas overcame a sluggish first half to defeat the Spokane Spiders 4-1 in front of 612 fans on a chilly evening at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.
Tye Perdido, Matt Friesen Jason Cascio and Eli Gordley found the back of the net for the Pumas, who fell behind 1-0 in the first half and entered the locker room in a 1-1 tie with the one-win Spiders.
“I told them it just wasn’t good enough,” Kitsap coach Peter Fewing said of his message to the players at halftime. “There wasn’t enough urgency, there wasn’t enough leadership. We were just flat- and that’s not good enough.”
Heavily favored over Spokane (1-7-1) after defeating the Spiders 3-0 in the second game of this season, the Pumas fell behind in the 29th minute. That’s when Nick Love beat Kitsap goalkeeper Dustyn Brim to give the Spiders a lead, sending a low shot across the box.
The ball grazed off the left post and bounced into the goal past Brim, who started after missing the past two games with a sore back. Brim was solid having to make only only one save in the match.
Kitsap had numerous chances to find the equalizer before halftime, missing two scoring opportunities in a span of two minutes shortly after the Spiders took the lead.
Perdido hit the left post in the 33rd minute, but neither he nor his teammates were there for the rebound. A minute later, David Gray’s shot toward the left post was deflected by a sliding Spiders defender Rommel Forde.
Perdido hit the left post again in the 41st minute when he secured possession on the right side of the box, turned and blistered a laser beam of a shot from 10 yards out, beating goalkeeper Nathan Stockie.
The first-year forward was finally rewarded in the 45th minute when he tied the game 1-1, finishing a tremendous cross from David Gray with a diving header in front of the goal.
“You keep knocking on the door and then all of a sudden you get one,” Perdido said. “You get rid of that mental block that comes with hitting the post twice – and you start playing better.”
Although that goal evened the score entering halftime, Fewing admitted he had harsh words in the locker room.
He decided to keep the starters in to begin the second half, giving them a chance to make amends for the sloppy 45 minutes.
“Everybody on this team expects us to play better,” he said. “I think in the second half we wore them down more than anything.”
Robert Christner nearly put the Pumas ahead in the 54th minute, but his shot from 20 yards out banged off the crossbar.
Matt Friesen finally gave the team a 2-1 in the 64th minute, sending in a header off a Cameron Hepple free kick.
Then a minute after an apparent Christner goal was waived off with an offside call, Jason Cascio scored his second goal of the season with a shot that bounced off a Spokane defender and rolled past the keeper to make it 3-1.
Puma forward Eli Gordley, who was injured in the pre-season and hadn’t seen much playing time, gave the Pumas a three-goal cushion three minutes after checking into the game. His strike in the 77th minute, assisted by Greg Miley, was Kitsap’s seventh goal this season against the Spiders.
The Pumas outshot the visitors by a whopping 19-3 margin.
With the win, the Pumas (8-1-0 overall, 7-1-0 league) kept pace in the race for the division title.
The Portland Timbers U23 (8-0-0), who handed Kitsap its only loss of the season with a 3-0 victory June 5, lead the Northwest Division with 24 points. The Highlanders of Victoria (7-1-1) are in second place with 22 points, and the Pumas hold third with 21 points and a game in hand on Victoria.
“I’m pleased we picked it up in the second half,” Fewing said. “We were asleep in the first.”
The Pumas host the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Stadium in the second round of the Open Cup, with the winner advancing to face the Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer. That game will be played June 30 at either Portland or Bremerton Memorial Stadium.
Kitsap and Portland played in the first round of last year’s Open Cup. The Timbers won that game 3-0 in Bremerton in front of more than 2,300 fans.
It’s a game the coaches and players have been anticipating perhaps before the season even started.
“We’re all biting at the bit,” Perdido said. “We want to step on our home field and put on a good show, but we can’t play like we did in the first half tonight. We’re definitely going to come out playing hard.”
Kitsap hosts the Highlanders at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, June 25, resuming league play.
Tickets are still available to the Open Cup and all other regular-season matches.
Please visit www.brownpapertickets.com or contact club headquarters at (360) 377-6008 to purchase.