Kitsap Pumas season will be decided during 5-match homestand

The Kitsap Pumas enter a five-match homestand Friday that could see the club solidify a playoff spot, clinch the PDL NW division and claim the Ruffneck Cup derby trophy as well.

The defending PDL Champs host Vancouver, Victoria, Washington Crossfire, North Sound and the Sounders U-23’s between June 22 and July 6.

by John Becerra Jr. for the Kitsap Pumas

The Kitsap Pumas are glad to be home for awhile.

The 2011 PDL champions open up a five game homestand Friday at 7:30
p.m. with the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23. Kitsap then host the Victoria
Highlanders Sunday at 2 p.m. The game was moved up from its original
start time of 4 p.m. to accommodate the Highlanders’ travel plans.

EXTRA: Friesen named PDL Player of Week

The Kitsap Pumas could win and receive the Ruffneck Cup trophy during their 5-match homestand that starts Friday. Currently the Pumas lead the Cup race with 12 points and an undefeated, untied record.

The club is sponsoring “B.C. Hand Clapper Weekend,” where the first
250 kids for each game get their very own handclapper. Tickets can be
purchased through Brown Paper Tickets or calling the Pumas’ front
office at 360-377-6008. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the
match at the main ticket booth at Bremerton Memorial Stadium, which
opens an hour before kickoff.Manager James Ritchie is excited to be home for these five games, four
of which will be on a Friday-Sunday schedule.

“It’s always fantastic to play at home in front of our home crowd,” he
said. “The field will be looking good… it’s our home. It’s our
backyard and we should be always wanting to play there as much as


Editor’s Note: The Pumas need four points to clinch the inaugural 2012 Ruffneck Cup. They host Crossfire, North Sound and the Sounders U-23’s during this homestand.


He is also glad the team can rest in their own beds rather than having
to endure a long bus ride to a match.

“Luckily one of the trips was down to Tacoma, but the trip up to
Canada was long,” Ritchie said. “It would have been hard to have two
trips to Canada to deal with. But it’s good to get into your own bed —
there’s a lot to be said to be able to relax the day of a game rather
than travel so you can get your head mentally in a good place and

The Pumas have performed very well this season. Coming into Friday’s
match, the team sports a 7-2-1 record, good for 22 points and their
now customary spot at the top of the PDL Northwest Division. Though
they are level on points with the surprising Washington Crossfire,
they are ahead thanks to a +12 goal differential.

“They’ve grown throughout the season,” Ritchie said of the team.
“We’ve gotten better and better and we’re still getting better. We’re
starting to move and pass the ball the way that I want them to move
and pass the ball. It took a few weeks to get it down but now I think
we’re really doing it. We want to play good football. We want to move
the ball well and pass and make third man runs. I think we’re
defending very tight, the way we want to.

“We’ve got a good mix of styles,” he continued. “There’s no one style
that we’ve got – I think we can mix it up when we want to mix it up
and change our system when we want to change our system.”

Matt Friesen’s goals and leadership have helped the Pumas stay a contender in 2012. (Jeff Halstead)

Ritchie also said he’s getting the hang of being a professional head
coach. He was an assistant for three years along with being the head
coach of the South Kitsap boys soccer team and the Olympic College
men’s soccer team before taking the job.

“I think it’s been fun,” he said. “With anything, you’re always
learning, you’re always growing and I’ve moved on. I’m pleased with
where we’re at, but we’ve still got a long way to go. But I’ve enjoyed
it — it’s been great stepping up into the role. I’m hoping we can all
continue to grow as the season goes on.”

The Pumas’ roster is growing in size thanks to the return of several
players from injury. Ritchie said defender Jamie Thomas is good to go
and defender Taylor Hyde has been medically cleared to play. Ritchie
said they are trying to get his paperwork in so he can play.
Midfielder Danny Medina should be good to go after missing the Fraser
Valley game with a knee injury.

Hyde, one of six Pumas still with the team, may see some action after
he had surgery on his hip in the offseason.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Ritchie said.

He doesn’t expect to make many lineup changes, but expects the team to
play better than they did against the Whitecaps, who beat Kitsap 3-0
in the season opener May 4.

“It’s going to be a massive game,” he said. “We’re still upset from
our trip up there, so we want to come out and prove to Vancouver that
we’re a fantastic team.”

Pumas five-match homestand:

PDL Fri Jun 22 10:30 PM ET Whitecaps U-23 at Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium
PDL Sun Jun 24 5:00 PM ET Victoria at Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium
PDL Fri Jun 29 10:30 PM ET Washington at Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium
July 2012
PDL Sun Jul 1 6:00 PM ET North Sound at Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium
PDL Fri Jul 6 10:30 PM ET Sounders U23 at Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium

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