Sports

Pumas begin on good foot

With one preseason match in the books and the second and last slated for tomorrow, kick off is approaching for the Kitsap Pumas’ inaugural season.

The county’s first fully professional soccer franchise wore its blue and white-striped home uniforms for the first time Saturday, beating the Tacoma Stars 2-1 at North Kitsap High School in front of an estimated 700 fans.

Newburg, Ore.-native Matt Friesen, 22, scored two goals to help the Pumas erase a 1-0 deficit — Tacoma scored first, in the eighth minute — and secure the club’s first win.

Only tomorrow’s game, against Seattle Pacific University at 4:30 p.m. at South Kitsap High School, and a few practices and scrimmages stand between the Pumas and their first official match May 2 against the Spokane Spiders in Spokane.

“We’re excited, the lads are chomping at the bit,” said coach John Wedge of the looming regular-season opener. “We’ve still got some work to do, but we’ve got some time.”

Wedge said he has yet to finalize a starting lineup for the opener and some of the starting positions are up for grabs, although he didn’t say exactly which positions those were.

“We want to practice with a good deal of intensity,” Wedge said. “Now that we’ve got games coming up, we’re really focusing on polishing up our set plays.”

While the club had participated in a handful of non-official scrimmages, Saturday was the first time the team had played in front of a bona fide audience.

Both Wedge and the players were thrilled to finally hit the pitch.

“It was exciting,” Wedge said. “I think the guys were excited to put the uniform on.”

The club this week also announced the signings of midfielder Tony Kerr, 21, defender Will Sturgess, 22, and goalkeeper Floyd Croll, 21, all of whom are from England.

“I’m excited to embrace this whole experience, including the culture, the cuisine and most of all the soccer,” Sturgess said in a statement released by the club.

Added Kerr, “The opportunity to play for a brand new franchise in Washington, which seems like a soccer-mad state, was a perfect opportunity for me and hopefully for the community and my (team)mates.”

Tickets for tomorrow’s game can be purchased at the game: adults, $5; younger than 15 and older than 64, $2; groups of four to seven, $10; groups of eight-plus, $15.

Season ticket packages begin at $45 and can be purchased online, www.kitsapsoccerclub.com, or at (360) 377-6008.

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