Throughout this season, I have tried to keep one eye on the goings on across the Sound. Kitsap, which has a number of familiar faces for Sounders FC fans, recently had a great run end in the Western Conference finals of the PDL playoffs with a 2-1 loss Sunday to the vaunted Portland Timbers U23s.
The Pumas beat defending champion Ventura County Fusion via penalty-kick shootout the day before. Anyways, here’s a final release from the team, wrapping up the final result. At the bottom of this post there’s a highlight video courtesy of David Falk, your Seattle Soccer Examiner.
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Pumas Felled by Timbers in League Quarterfinals
Bremerton, Wash. – A night after defeating the 2009 Premier Development League champions, the Kitsap Pumas saw their season end against the club favored to take the crown this year.
Brian Ramsey and Richard Abrego tallied goals to lead the Portland Timbers U23 over Kitsap 2-1 in the Western Conference championship in front of 1,012 fans Sunday evening at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.
With the win, Portland (18-0-0) advanced to the national semifinals and completed a three-match sweep of the Pumas this season.
“Give Portland credit,” Kitsap coach Peter Fewing said. “When a team beats a team three times in a row, you’ve got to give them credit.”
Less than 24 hours after grinding out a win on penalty kicks over the defending league champion Ventura County Fusion – and in a physical game that went 120 minutes before kicks – the Pumas took the pitch on sore, tired legs.
Some of the players were visibly exhausted when Abrego tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 82nd minute, finishing on a rebound after goalkeeper Dustyn Brim deflected a bending corner kick off the foot of Roberto Farfan.
“It’s frustrating,” Brim said. “We wanted to put on a better show for the fans.”
The late goal negated a beautiful equalizer from Kitsap defender Mark Lee three minutes before halftime.
Lee tied the game after receiving a blistering right-to-left cross from Jamel Wallace. Standing about five yards in front of the goal, Lee took the ball on his right foot and one-timed it past keeper Jacob Gleeson.
Kitsap had gone 222 minutes without scoring a goal against Portland, which during this past regular season shut out the Pumas twice (3-0 and 1-0).
Lee’s goal gave Kitsap a boost of confidence and real momentum entering the second half.
“We thought at halftime we could still win it for sure,” Fewing said. “Heck, we thought we could win it the whole time. The guys played with all their hearts.”
Ramsey broke a scoreless tie and gave Portland the lead in the 24th minute when he took a pass in open field and fired a low shot from 18 yards out. The ball skipped between the legs of Kitsap goalkeeper Dustyn Brim, who failed to coral it despite being in position for the save.
The goal left Ramsey, Brim and the crowd stunned.
“You’ll never see Dustyn have a goal like that again,” Fewing said. “It happens every once in awhile in a guy’s career. It’s just one of those things. But you can’t put it one guy. It’s a team win and it’s a team loss.”
Despite the loss, it was another remarkable season for the Pumas. They qualified for the playoffs for the second time in as many seasons, and their only losses were to the Timbers U23.
With a solid nucleus in place, both the coach and players figure Kitsap will compete for a league title in 2011.
“We did a lot of great things this season,” Fewing said. “It’s great group of guys. There will be no letup, I assure you.”
Portland finished this past season unbeaten and untied – the first club to do so since 1998 – and defeated the Pumas twice during the regular season by a combined score of 4-0.
The Timbers U23 overcame just its second deficit of the season en route to a 2-1 win Saturday over the Hollywood United Hitmen.
Now they’ll compete in the national semifinals, which begin Aug. 6. The final four teams standing are Portland, Central Conference champion Thunder Bay Chill of Ontario, Canada, Eastern conference champion Reading United AC of Pennsylvania and either the Baton Rouge Capitals or Houston Leones of the Southern Conference.