BREMERTON — The Kitsap Pumas are heading back to their roots after spending last season as Kitsap SC.
The name associated with club’s 2011 championship run in the Premier Development League will be restored to the Bremerton-based squad in 2018.
The Pumas moved last year from the Premier Development League to the National Premier Soccer League, but because of that, the club had to leave its name behind for one season, according to club owner Robin Waite.
“The league had jurisdiction over this,” said Waite. “I don’t know what the penalty would have been if they decided they wanted to enforce it.”
Waite admitted it had been confusing to suddenly change the club’s name. While close followers of the Pumas knew who they were, more casual fans in Kitsap County may not have realized it was still the same team playing at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, he said.
The club has had plenty of success under its new/old moniker — the Pumas made it to the PDL finals in 2014 after capturing the western conference championship and, in 2016, made it to the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where they were defeated by the Seattle Sounders.
Last year, in their first season in the NPSL, the Pumas captured the Northwest Conference Division title with a 6-2-2 record and a No. 3 seed in the playoffs. After defeating rival FC Mulhouse Portland at home in the first round, the Pumas fell, 4-2, to CD Aguiluchos USA in the second round.
“We’re fairly well known in the soccer world for what we’ve done,” said Waite. “It would be silly not to capitalize on that, so we’re very happy to be back to being Pumas.”