Pumas Down Washington, Hit Double-Digit Win Total Second Year In a Row
Seattle, Wash. – Kitsap head coach Peter Fewing admitted afterward it was an ugly win, but sometimes the mark of a good team is when – and if – it can indeed win ugly.
That was the case tonight night, as Eli Gordley had the only goal for the Pumas in its 1-0 win over the Washington Crossfire at Interbay Stadium.
The win puts Kitsap (10-1-2) three points clear of idle Tacoma for second place in the Northwest Division. Both teams were tied coming into tonight’s game. The Pumas hold a game in hand.
Gordley, who came on as a substitute for Matt Friesen in the 55th minute, was in the right spot at the right time in the 74th when David Gray’s early cross found Stephen Phillips off a ricochet in the box who then put his own cross to Cameron Hepple on the left side of the Crossfire goal. Hepple’s low drive was deflected by Washington goalkeeper Chris Blais, but Gordley corralled the deflection and tapped it into an empty net before Blais had a chance to recover. It was the classy forward’s third goal on the season.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” said Gordley, but he (Blais) was about a foot away (from the ball.) and the ball had a lot of spin on it and I thought it was going to spin away on me.”
That goal was the result of being in the right place at the right time, as Kitsap’s offensive effort seemed a bit disjointed for a good portion of the match.
The side’s best effort came off a great buildup in Washington’s defensive third in the 36th-minute, but Jason Cascio’s goal was disallowed when he was ruled offside.
“We didn’t have many chances,” Fewing said. “But I’ve coached at this field many times (as the head coach at Seattle University) and I’ve seen some wars here.
“Both teams wanted to win,” he continued. “It’s one of those deals where it wasn’t pretty and we bent but didn’t break, which was good for us as we mount our playoff run.”
The Crossfire kept on the attack after Gordley’s goal and nearly equalized, but Murphy Campbell’s redirection of a Adam Jahn pass went wide forcing Pumas goalkeeper Garrett Staples to make a quick collection of a bad clearance by the Kitsap defense – only to receive a boot to the head courtesy of Jahn.
It was the second shot to his head in the match. Dan Scott collided with him as both went for a ball in the first half.
“Chances were at a premium in this match,” Staples said. “They were really looking to play a block eight in back to just drop in hard and go. They have good players and quality speed up top so that’s what they were trying to rely on.”
But even with Washington pushing bodies forward, the defense held firm, earning Staples his first in-season clean sheet as a Puma and his second win.
“It feels really good,” he said. “You know you’ve done your job when you see a goose egg on the scoreboard.”
The win is also important toward building and maintaining momentum as the Pumas head into the last home match of the season against Portland on Sunday.
Gordley said they’ll be more than ready for that game. Portland dealt Kitsap its only league loss this year – a brutal three-nil thrashing in the Rose City earlier this season.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I can’t wait. This time we want some blood.”
Fewing also noted that starting ‘keeper Dustyn Brim – who was held out of tonight’s match because of a sore back – should be ready to go. He also expects forward Robbie Christener, who has missed the past three matches with a groin pull, to return Sunday. Defender Taylor Hyde also missed tonight’s game after tweaking an ankle this past Saturday night in the club’s scintillating 3-2 win over Yakima.
Sunday’s home regular-season finale is also the club’s second-annual “Fan Appreciation Night.” There will be drawings for numerous prizes throughout the evening. Fans are encouraged to arrive early. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.
Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets (at www.brownpapertickets.org) or through the Kitsap front office at 360-377-6008.