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Pumas headed back to playoffs
The Kitsap Pumas are two for two.
The team earned its second playoff berth in as many seasons after a 6-2 romp over the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday. The Pumas’ postseason will also begin at home.
Kitsap will host the Premier Development League's Western Conference finals, between the top teams from the Northwest and Southwest divisions, from July 30 to Aug. 1.
“For us to play at home I think would be a huge advantage,” Pumas head coach Peter Fewing said.
Kitsap (11-2-2) has one regular season game remaining before the playoffs begin. Saturday the Pumas face the Tacoma Tide (9-3-3), the team they edged out for the division’s second playoff spot.
“I expect Tacoma to come out and give us a strong game,” Fewing said. “We’re playing for some pride.”
“We’re not going to go out and change our lineup significantly,” Fewing added. “We have enough rest time between that game and the postseason that we can recover.”
Wednesday’s game at Vancouver started poorly for the Pumas. The team’s U.S.-Canada border crossing took longer than expected, and upon arrival at the stadium, Kitsap had only five minutes to warm up. Entering the second half tied 1-1, Vancouver took the lead on a penalty kick by Russel Teibert in the 50th minute.
“The first half was a little up and down,” Fewing said. “We weren’t connecting passes.”
Two minutes later, things started to click for Kitsap. The Pumas scored five times during the next half-hour to sail over the Whitecaps and into the playoffs.
When the Pumas, the second-place team in the Northwest Division, begin postseason play July 30, they will face the winner of the league’s Southwest Division. Three teams are fighting for that division’s two open playoff spots: the Ventura County Fusion, Orange County Blue Star and Hollywood United Hitmen. Hollywood plays today, the Fusion play Saturday and Orange County wrapped up its season July 18.
The Fusion (8-4-1) knocked the Pumas out of the playoffs last season en route to winning the league championship.
Fewing believes the Pumas will have success in the postseason if they can carry forth the momentum they gained in the second half of Wednesday’s game.
“We keep playing like that, we’ll be alright,” he said.