Kitsap Pumas deliver playoff victory

The Kitsap Pumas are one of eight teams still alive in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League playoffs.

Stephen Phillips and Alex Megson scored goals to propel the Pumas past the Seattle Wolves 2-0 in front of a season-high crowd of 2,328 at Bremerton Memorial Stadium in the second round of the PDL playoffs Saturday.

It was the Pumas' (13-1-3) third win in as many tries this season against Seattle (11-4-3), which was eliminated with the loss.

The Pumas face California's Ventura County in Laredo, Texas on Friday, with the winner advancing to the PDL semifinals.

“I know we can do it,” Leon Abravanel said. “We're a good enough team. We've got good coaching, a good core, a good community base. We can step up to the big time and win this thing.”

Phillips started the scoring against the Wolves in the 14th minute after Kyle Johnson was fouled on the edge of the penalty box. On the ensuing free kick, Johnson found Phillips, who slipped a quick right-footed toe-poke past Wolves goalkeeper Pete Lechak.

“I just barely got a touch on it,” he said. “The ball did the rest.”

The Pumas punched their ticket to Texas in the 71st minute when Phillips split two defenders and put the ball onto the left foot of Megson, who had entered the game as a substitute in place of Johnson one minute earlier. Megson kicked the ball

“This guy comes in, man, and he's insane,” Phillips said of Megson, whose been battling a leg injury.

The Wolves' best scoring opportunities came in the second half. Brandon Zimmerman put two shots just wide of the near post and Alex Chursky, who scored both goals in Seattle's 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers U23 in the first round July 23, sent a free kick off the crossbar.

It was the second time the Pumas shutout the Wolves.

“They had some opportunities, but nothing that I was really too bothered by,” said goalkeeper Dustyn Brim. “Once we got the ball down and knocked it around, you could see the other team (would have to) chase us. We looked at their bench and saw three subs, and we said, 'You boys are running tonight.'”

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