Playoffs next for Kitsap Pumas

TACOMA — In the last match of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League regular season, the Kitsap Pumas wanted to go out on a high note.

Instead, two late goals put a damper on an otherwise smooth 4-3 win over the Tacoma Tide.

Goalkeeper Dustyn Brim said the Pumas lost focus, as they gave up not one, but two goals in injury time. Tacoma player-coach Greg Howes scored both goals, one of which came off a free kick after Brim was booked for a yellow card after a hard tackle on Rory Agu outside the penalty box.

“They (the Tide) started talking trash and we got mixed up in it and we can’t afford to do that. On the free kick I was trying to talk to our boys to get them set up on the wall and they were too busy (arguing with the Tide) to even listen to me,” Brim said. “We should have sealed the game up. (The score) should have been 4-nil.”

Bremerton native Kyle Johnson scored in the 16th minute, his third goal of the season, on a cross from Mark Conrad, tapping it past the near post with his right foot. Johnson said he wasn’t sure if the shot would cross the goal line, but he also noticed Tacoma goalkeeper Chris Kintz was too far away to make the save.

“It (the ball) just kept going,” he said. “Thank god soccer balls are round.”

Tony Kerr, who sat out Saturday’s match due to a red card suspension suffered a week ago, stepped up in his return to the lineup, filling the shoes of leading scorer Stephen Phillips, who was suspended due to a red card he received Friday against Victoria in the Pumas’ 2-1 loss.

The Englishman netted two goals in the first half, the first coming when he followed a Kintz deflection off a shot from Conrad, heading it in from 3 yards out. The second came when he took advantage of a misplay by a Tacoma defender to slot in a left-footed shot from close range.

“The first one was a really good team goal,” said Kerr, who finished the regular season with seven goals. “We had a few passes interchange and managed to get the ball out to the right. When Mark had it, everybody ran near post so I thought ‘OK, I’ll try and stay out on the far post.’”

Alex Megson rounded out the Pumas’ scoring in the 49th minute.

Despite allowing a season-high three goals, Brim is the PDL’s second-rated keeper in goals-against-average (.615), wins (12) and shutouts (six). He finished third in goals allowed (eight), according to league statistics. The Pumas also finished the regular season fourth in the PDL in team-goals allowed (13).

Up next for the Pumas, who were the first club in the 68-team PDL to clinch a playoff spot, is the postseason. They will host the winner of the Seattle-Portland match, to be played in Portland Thursday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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