Last night in Portland was, sadly, the last game for this 2012 Kitsap Puma squad.The Pumas have a fantastic track record in the PDL on the pitch, but off of the pitch, deep in the heart of the small community of Bremerton. Not only have they made at least the first round of playoffs consistently since their fist season back in 2009, but they have also managed to come back each year with a team of wonderful, kind-hearted, passionate and unique boys who are never short of a smile, a hug and a "thanks for coming out to support us". As well as being amazing people, they are also incredibly athletic and skilled on the pitch. This season was certainly no exception. Although our boys will take no further part in the playoffs this season, and us fans ache for their frustration, I am so full of happiness right now.
The Pumas season got off to a bit of a rough start with a hefty loss at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Although that was when the PDL officially recognized the start of the season, team bonding had begun weeks earlier and the seasoned veterans were already on great terms. Everyone seemed to gel well, but the loss was certainly frustrating. Back at home, the Pumas bounced back with a demolition of Fraser Valley Mariners, beating them 6-0. The Pumas hit another road bump in the US Open Cup, losing at home to Cal FC but that weekend they were right back on track against Ruffneck rivals the Sounders U23s, defeating them 3-1. They fell at the hands of the Timbers, a team who would prove to be a thorn in the Pumas side for the remainder of the season right up to the last hurrah of the 2012 campaign. With Puma legend Taylor Hyde already sidelined due to double hip surgeries, the squad suffered another loss when striker Chris Bettencourt, whose dominant abilities in the air perfectly complemented the physical presence and attacking capabilities of his striking partner Ben Truax, went under the knife to repair a torn ligament in his knee. From that point on, despite a long spell of away games, the Pumas consistently brought home three points. They only fell against the Vancouver Whitecaps in a scrappy game on a frigid night in Bremerton and then to the Victoria Highlanders that same weekend.
In the duration of this season, the Pumas have lifted the first Ruffneck Cup, scored exceptional goals (my personal favorite is Matt Friesen's stunning volley against the Sounders U23s!) and won the hearts of fans all over Kitsap. When an entire group of people follow you to Portland not one but two weekends in a row and are in tears when they see the slightest look of defeat and disappointment on your faces, you've done something right. Thank you for a fantastic season boys, I look forward to seeing you all on the pitch somewhere, someday. Hopefully very soon :)