BREMERTON, Wash. – (KitsapPumas.com) The Kitsap Pumas scored a 92nd minute winner against the Puget Sound Gunners in front of close to 500 fans at Gordon Field to maintain there 100% start to the season.
For the third game in a row, a substitute would come off the bench to make the difference for the defending Western Conference champions. Michael Chamberlain, who netted a hat-trick in the home opener versus Calgary, once again was the hero, smashing home an Ash Apollon lay-off with virtually the last kick-off the game after Mike Ramos had seen a 84th minute penalty saved.
Match Photos: by Jeff Halstead
The Gunners (0-2-2), frustrated their hosts right from the start, giving up territory but keeping all eleven players behind the ball and looking to capitalize with counter attacks. Returning Pumas keeper Matt Grosey had only given up one league goal in the previous three league matches and that tally was never threatened during a first half in which the Pumas dominated without creating many clear chances. The closet either team game to breaking the deadlock in the first half came after 25 minutes when the lively Carlos Patino climbed highest to meet an Eronemo cross and power a header towards goal that had the goalkeeper beaten but cannoned against the crossbar.
Half-Time: Kitsap Pumas 0-0 Puget Sound Gunners
At half-time the Pumas withdrew San Jose Earthquakes draft pick Chimdum Mez and replaced him with Seattle Pacific University graduate Sean Russell, in the hopes that Russell’s speed would hold the key to unlocking the stubborn Gunners defense. The change nearly had the desired effect moments in to the second half when Russell burst past his mark and teed up the advancing Nick Hamer who managed to elude the defense, but he dragged his shot agonizingly past the post.
As the game wore on, the Gunners team, who were throwing everything on the line over and over again to thwart Pumas attacks began to tire. The Pumas could sense this and introduced the fresh legs of Miller, Apollon and Chamberlain, changes that subsequently started a prolonged assault on the Gunners goal from all angles and distances. Ramos twice was denied by excellent defensive blocks while Apollon and Chamberlain could only find the side netting with drives. Logan Miller and Rene DeZorzi both flashed headers just past the post. As the minutes tickets away, it became a case of would time run out before one found the back of the net.
With six minutes left to play, the Pumas midfield combined well and set Ramos free in the box. As he spun back towards goal, his flighted cross was adjudged to have been deliberately handled by a defender resulting in a Pumas penalty award. Mike Ramos confidently placed the ball on the spot but his powerful strike was expertly tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper to the delight of the visiting supporters.
In the second of two additional minutes, just as it looked as though the Gunners were going to escape with a point, substitute Jake Bond galloped down the right side and served an enticing ball to the back post that was knocked down beautifully by Miller and slammed into the net by the waiting Chamberlain to send the Pumas fans into euphoria!
Full-Time: Kitsap Pumas 1-0 Puget Sound Gunners
Pumas head coach Cameron MacDonald felt the goal was a just reward for a professional performance. “I was talking to Shaun (Scobie) towards the end of the game and we didn’t know what we were going to say to the boys at full-time. They defended well, they dominated possession and created more than enough chances to win the game but it just wouldn’t go in. It would have been extremely frustrating to drop points at home in that manner so I’m glad the boys kept going and got the winner”.
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Goalscorer Michael Chamberlain was understandably happy at netting in consecutive home matches, “We were knocking on the door for a while there, and i’m delighted one went in. Bubas whipped in a great ball and after the touch i managed to stick it in the back of the net”.
Kitsap now enters a week without a league game and will be hoping to take full advantage by resting some players.