Lane United FC 0, Kitsap Pumas 2
Kitsap Pumas defeated Lane United FC 2-0 in a chilly, cagey matchup at the Willamalane Center that saw few clear scoring chances for either team. The Kitsap defense, which had carried the Pumas to the PDL national title game in 2014 and playoff appearances in all but one season of their existence since 2009, proved almost impossible for the Reds to break down, and at the final whistle the opposing goalkeeper Matt Grosey had only been forced into two saves. Kitsap were hardly better off, with Matt Bersano in goal for the Reds having only had to make three saves; unfortunately, he had also been beaten twice. The first was a brilliant free kick from Justin Ortinau on the stroke of halftime that squeezed into the top corner of the Reds captain’s net; the second was a solo effort from the speedy and powerful forward Mike Ramos, who rounded the keeper after holding off two defenders on a breakaway.
Lane United head coach John Galas harbored no regrets about the loss, saying that his team “went into the game with the right attitude, and even once they were down 1-0 at halftime the mood in the locker room was positive and they were ready to get after it.” The problem was simply Kitsap’s “rock-solid organization on the pitch. They are in sync already and they always do well in the league, and they were very tough to get past when we were on the ball.”
The game began slowly, with eleven minutes passing before the first shot had even been taken, by Kitsap’s Trevor Jensen. Center referee Farhad Dadkho’s tendency to call the game unusually tight by PDL standards — although not necessarily by the standards of world soccer — meant that the action was frequently broken up by minor fouls in the middle of the pitch. Kitsap crashed a header against the top of the crossbar mid-way through the first half, but they had few opportunities to score until the 45th minute, when Amer Sasivarevic was called for what was deemed a handball at the right edge of the Lane United box. Ortinau stepped up and, right footed, dropped a perfectly placed free kick over the wall and to the far post, where Bersano may have gotten a fingertip to it but couldn’t keep it out of the top corner. Kitsap went into the break suddenly up by a goal.
20 mostly uneventful minutes into the second half passed before they had doubled their lead. Mike Ramos, who had shown an uncanny ability to hold onto the ball through challenges all game, turned on the jets after being chipped in behind the Lane United center-backs with minimal separation from them. Facing an onrushing Bersano, Ramos very coolly rolled the ball to his left at full speed to round the keeper and pass the ball into an empty net. Lane United continued to possess and fight well after going down by two goals, but virtually every move that looked like it might beget a goalscoring chance was squeezed out before it could gain the necessary momentum. The Reds’ clearest look of the second half came at the very end of the game, with a classic route-one big-and-little interplay between Mueller and Jones (who is only a “little” when paired with Mueller), Mueller flicking a header on to Jones and the latter racing into the box to shoot low and left-footed. Grosey saved on the stretch, and less than a minute later Dadkho’s final whistle blew.
After the game, Galas praised his players while acknowledging Kitsap’s nous. The Reds now have a week to rest and regroup, with the next game taking place on the road on Saturday, May 23 in Issaquah, WA against the Puget Sound Gunners.