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July 1, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Kitsap Pumas take on Victoria on Saturday (team release)

Pumas At Victoria This Saturday for Critical NW Division Tilt

Bremerton, Wash. – With the regular season more than halfway over, the Kitsap Pumas hope to solidify second place in the Premier Development League’s Northwest Division with a win Saturday against the Victoria Highlanders.

The Pumas (8-1-1, 25 points) lead the Highlanders (7-3-2, 23 points) for the division’s second and last playoff spot behind the Portland Timbers U23 – who hold a slim, two-point lead in first but must travel to Bremerton for the regular-season finale.

Equally important for the Pumas, however, is erasing the memories of a disappointing performance this past Sunday, when they tied the winless Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 on their home pitch.

It was the club’s only draw this season in a divisional match – possibly the result of playing five games in nine days – including two in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

With six days to regroup, Kitsap expects to get back on track.

“I personally wish we didn’t have this much time off,” goalkeeper Dustyn Brim said following the tie against Vancouver. “We need to get out there and get that taste out of our mouths.”

“We’ve had a busy but well-planned schedule,” said executive director Ben Pecora. “Making the Open Cup is a goal of our and we advanced further than every before. We have some excellent professionals on this roster and it’s time for them to assert their leadership – leadership we specifically sought out following last season. It’s also time for the team to find the next gear and take individual and collective play to a higher level.”

This is second meeting in eight days between Victoria and Kitsap. The Pumas won the first meeting 2-0 at home in one of their best performances of the season.

To repeat that result, Kitsap’s strikers must finish more scoring opportunities than they did against Vancouver.

Although the Pumas controlled possession against Vancouver – and looked like the more talented team – they failed to convert scoring chances at a rate they have in the past.

They’re ready to change that Saturday.

“We have high expectations and obviously expect to win every game,” said Pumas forward Eli Gordley, who scored Kitsap’s lone goal Sunday.

A win also would keep Pumas at most two points behind the Timbers U23 and within striking distance of another division crown. A win also possibly puts them back into first place in the event of a Portland loss (Portland visits streaking Tacoma tonight in Tacoma).

The Pumas lost to 3-0 earlier this season at Portland. The two teams meet in Bremerton Saturday night, July 18. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available.

Kitsap though next hosts the Yakima Reds at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 10 at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.

Tickets to that match and the club’s regular-season finale – Fan Appreciation Night – on July 18, are still available. To purchase, please visit www.brownpapertickets.com or contact club headquarters at (360) 377-6008.

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