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The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON

goalWA.net Match of the Week: Washington Crossfire at Kitsap Pumas

goalWA.net is starting a new tradition of highlighting one local match as our “Match of the Week.” It is a great time to do so as tonight in Bremerton one of the bigger PDL matches in recent seasons takes place between Washington Crossfire and the Kitsap Pumas.

The PDL Northwest Division race couldn’t be any hotter, and tonight at Bremerton Memorial Stadium first-place Washington Crossfire will visit the second-place Kitsap Pumas with top spot positioning on the line. Further, the Pumas could clinch the Puget Sound Derby Ruffneck Cup with a win.

We’ve been posting all week about the big match and the Cup. See a few links below along with a report issued by the Pumas.

Pumas could claim 2012 Ruffneck Cup

Washington Crossfire takes over first place in PDL NW

Kitsap edged Crossfire 2:1 in Redmond earlier in the season. (Dale Garvey)

Washington Crossfire at Kitsap Pumas, 7:30 PM, Bremerton Memorial Stadium, Tickets: $10 adult / $5 youth  Watch live online at: The Kitsap Sun

by John Becerra Jr. for the Kitsap Pumas

After a tough weekend which saw the Kitsap Pumas take one point from
six, the club can ill afford another slip up this weekend.

The Pumas host the Washington Crossfire at 7:30 p.m. Friday, then
welcome the North Sound Sea Wolves to town on Sunday. Match time is at
3 p.m. Tickets for the games can be bought at Brown Paper Tickets or
call the Pumas’ front office at 360-377-6008.

It’s a big game for the Pumas as they need three points to reclaim
their top spot in the division. Currently the Crossfire hold a two
point lead over Kitsap thanks to their 2-1 victory over the Vancouver
Whitecaps FC U-23 Wednesday.

It’s also the game that could decide the Ruffneck Cup.
Currently the Pumas hold a three-point lead with a perfect 4-0 record
and a +9 goal differential.

If Washington can beat or tie the Pumas then the local derby cup remains up for grabs. If the Pumas win tonight, it’s theirs. (David Falk)

But since their 3-0 win against Fraser Valley, the Pumas have been
blanked in consecutive home games, a first for the club.

The Pumas will be without two players for Friday’s game in midfielders
Matt Friesen and Elliot Fauske. Friesen was lost to a knee injury
while Fauske was awarded two yellow cards and ejected for a fight near
the end of the game. Friesen is one of the top goal scorers for the
Pumas.

Manager James Ritchie said he thinks Friesen can return next week. He
said defenders Zack Sampson and Danny Medina and forward Chris
Bettencourt took part in practice Wednesday. Defender Taylor Hyde also
took part in some light training Wednesday. He said their return is
up in the air depending on how they do at Thursday’s practice.

“We’re still observing them; seeing where they’re at, seeing if
they’re ready,” he said. “I believe that they are competitors and
they’ll be ready to go. It couldn’t have been a worse time for (Matt)
to get hurt, but that’s life. We deal with it, we man up, we go out
there and we play and we see what happens.”

He also said they won’t worry about their recent drop in form.

“It’s annoying,” he said. “We’re upset with how the way we played
Sunday. We’re a little bit frustrated with our situation, but it is
what it is. We deal with it and move on. We’ll have 11 players on the
field and Crossfire will have 11 players on the field and the best
team will win. We just need to go out and prove that it’s us that is
the best team.”

The tight schedule also causes problems with getting enough recovery
time for injuries, but Ritchie is confident the team will respond.

“I’m sure the boys will step up,” he said. “They’re rarin’ to go. The
subs are chewing at the bit ’cause they think they may get in and get
a chance to prove themselves. One person’s injury is another person’s
opportunity.”

One of those opportunities may fall to new signing Zack Mahon, a
midfielder/forward from San Antonio, Texas. He attended Longwood
University, a Division I school in Farmville, Virginia.

“He’s a fast player,” Ritchie said. “He can play on the wing, he can
play upfront. He’s a smart player – he’s got a lot of good traits
about him. It’s not going to be easy for him because he’s going to be
fighting for a spot, but it gives competition and competition is
always good.”

And Ritchie knows the team will respond to the challenges that lay ahead.

“The boys are resilient,” he said. “They’re a good bunch of lads. They
work hard. They play hard. They’re good players. We’ve had our
challenges and any good team does. You just can’t expect to go out
there and walk through teams.

“The league is fantastically difficult,” Ritchie continued. “We knew
that going into the season. We knew we had a lot of changes, too.
We’ve done very well and we’re going to keep fighting. It’s
unfortunate that we’ve got those injuries, but the league is still
there to be won. Hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be there to
try to push for the number one spot.”

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