Kitsap Pumas / Premier Development League / Washington Crossfire

Unbeaten Kitsap Pumas run past Crossfire in second half

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Miguel Gonzalez was one of three Pumas who scored in the second half on Saturday night in Bremerton. (Jeff Halstead)

BREMERTON, WA— (Pumas release) It was the quintessential tale of two halves Saturday night.

The Kitsap Pumas and Washington Crossfire didn’t set the world on fire in the first half, but in the second both sides made a better run at getting three points.

Kitsap were that much better however, as Chuy Sanchez, Miguel Gonzalez and Pat Kelly all scored to lead the Pumas past the Crossfire 3-1 at Gordon Field to stay undefeated on the season and run its undefeated streak to 14 matches dating back to last season in front of 562 fans.

Match Photos: Jeff Halstead at Facebook.com/goalWA

Kitsap (6-0-4, 22 points) increased its lead in the USL PDL Northwest Division by seven points over the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23. They are tied with FC Tuscon and the Austin Aztex for most points in the PDL with 22 and are one of six teams in the entire PDL without a loss.

“It was them telling us but us knowing that we had to play better,” Gonzalez said of the difference in the two halves. “We just picked it up and started playing our game (in the second half). That’s what we needed to do from the start but once we did that in the second half then we played well and kept the ball well and created more chances for sure.”

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Pat Kelly in mid-flip after he scored his first goal as a Puma. (Jeff Halstead)

Both sides struggled to get any decent attempts on goal in the first half. Kitsap had a few more looks than Washington, but were unable to create something.

“We tried to high press but we weren’t doing it as a team,” Sanchez said. “We were exposed a little bit. It was a bit rough with the heat and with the turf it makes it hot, but we just didn’t click. We didn’t have the performance in the first half that we wanted to.”

Head coach Andrew Chapman said they got their heads back in the match at halftime, but made a few necessary changes as well, bringing in Mike Chamberlain up front and pushing Tommy Catalano out wide.

“We made that adjustment to pinching them up and pushing them up a little bit more so they’re playing a little bit higher up the field,” he said. “So when we won the ball we were in a better spot to counter.”

It paid off, as Sanchez scored three minutes after the restart when Gonzalez found him with a pass for the score and his team leading fourth goal. He also leads the team in points with 10.

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“We got a quick turnover and we just went on the counter,” he said. “As they started shifting to the left I just kinda snuck in on the back side. Miguel found me with a great ball and I just took a touch and slotted it in.”

Gonzalez got a goal of his own in the 55th minute as he made some nice moves to fake out the Crossfire defenders and fire in his third of the season.

Kelly rounded out the scoring four minutes later when he took advantage of a turnover to blast a shot past Washington goalkeeper Tyler Visten by the near post. It’s his first goal as a Puma.

The Pumas could have added another when Septi Danciu earned a penalty in the 66th minute after he made a long run and was taken down in the box but his attempt was easily saved by Visten.

Nik Besagno, a former Puma who was the captain for the club during its run to the 2011 PDL championship, was sent off in the 85th minute after earning his second yellow card for a tackle on Danciu.

Joaquin Rivas missed the match with a knee injury.

With just four games left, the Pumas have undergone some personnel changes.

Rene DeZorzi will be leaving to attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Chapman said they were well aware of the trip beforehand.

Daniel Gonzalez was signed to replace Craig Rodgers. The midfielder played with Miguel at Peninsula for one year.

Kitsap heads to Portland next Saturday to face the Timbers U-23.

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Nik Besagno won a PDL National Title with Kitsap in 2011. Now he leads Washington Crossfire. (Jeff Halstead)

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