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Pumas on wave of momentum heading into U.S. Open Cup
In a must-win game for both the Kitsap Pumas and the Portland Timbers U23, Matt Friesen's leg was the difference.
The midfielder's goal off a free kick was good enough for the Pumas in a 1-0 win over the Timbers Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. The victory puts Kitsap (5-0-2) at the top of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (USL PDL) Northwestern Division, albeit by just one point.
“That's a big, big victory,” goalkeeper Dustyn Brim said. “That's probably the best side we've played so far and to come out on top is great. We were battling the whole time.”
Kitsap came out aggressive and created plenty of scoring chances in the first half, but either couldn't finish or had the ball cleared by the Portland defense.
The Pumas got a huge break when Spencer Schomaker was dragged down by Portland defender Daniel Leach just outside the penalty box in the 23rd minute. Leach was booked for a red card and ejected. Friesen took the direct free kick and was dead on with his shot, curving it over the Portland wall and past Guerrero for the match's only score.
In the second half, Portland came out more aggressive and began creating more chances despite playing down a man. The closest Portland came was when a Timbers player was fouled just outside the penalty box in the 74th minute. Avneet Shergill took the direct free kick, but put it wide left.
Brim collected his third shutout of the year and has allowed just two goals in 450 minutes of play.
“The guys in front of me are amazing,” Brim said. “What a lot of people don't get to see is the foot skills our back line possesses. It's top-notch."
With the win, Kitsap heads into its first-ever U.S. Open Cup match — against the USL Division I Portland Timbers at home Tuesday — with some confidence.
“They're probably going to come in and say, 'Oh these guys aren't much,'” said Friesen, a native of Newburg, Ore. “So we might have a psychological advantage because we're going to be really up for it and they're coming in thinking they're going to roll over us.”
Game time is 7 p.m. Tickets are still available through Brown Paper Bag tickets and the Pumas front office.