Pumas can’t stay above Whitecaps

The home side scored quickly and kept up constant pressure on the visitors, but failed to close out the game for a much-needed 3 points.

The Pumas’ inability to close out games is beginning to cost them their standing in the Pacific Development League.

Kitsap fell to fifth place out of seven in the Northwest Division this weekend. The team has only seven points in seven matches.

The team hasn’t been consistently out-matched. They have only two losses on the season. Of the Pumas’ seven matches this season, four have ended in draws.

That was the case again on Saturday, when the Pumas took on the Vancouver Whitecaps U23 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in their second home game of the season.

The final score was 2-2.

Saturday’s game was particularly frustrating for Kitsap supporters, since the Pumas seemed in control throughout most of the game.

It only took the Pumas a few minutes to score the first goal. In the fifth minute Sebastiaan Jansen shed his defender and broke away down the left flank, passing at the top of the box to Kasey Kiarash who put the ball cleanly into the net.

Kitsap kept up the pressure, taking another close shot on goal less than a minute later and putting another just to the right of the net in the 16th minute.

The home team dominated the first quarter of the game. Vancouver wasn’t able to really string a play together until the 20th minute, when they finally pushed the possession into the offensive half.

Their push was short-lived, however, as weak shot on goal failed to test the Pumas’ keeper.

As the first half continued, the Whitecaps were able to wrestle some of the possession from the Pumas. Their effort was rewarded in the 36th minute when the ball found its way to the top of the Pumas’ box.

Vancouver midfielder Cam Hundal put a through ball in to Harry Lakhan, who put it where goalkeeper Aaron Fenlason couldn’t reach.

With only a few minutes left in the first half, two players began struggling in the Pumas’ box. The Kitsap player appeared to get hit and went down. Fans called loudly for a penalty, but none was given.

After player resumed, referees added two minutes of injury time to the half, which proved vital for the home side.

In the waning moments of the half, Kiarash scored his second goal and put the Pumas up 2-1 going into the break.

Coming out of the half, the both sides pressed from one end of the field to the other. The Pumas had a shot from 25 yards out ping off the crossbar in the 62nd minute.

In the 70th minute, the Whitecaps equalized the game once again, this time at 2-2, when Niall Cousens received the ball inside the right side of penalty area and shot it past Fenlason into the far side of the net.

The Pumas picked their possession dominance back up after the equalizer, but were never able to put the ball in the back of the net.

They had several chances that went just wide. A beautiful shot careened over the Whitecaps wall on a set piece from about 30 yards out, heading for the corner of the net, but Vancouver keeper Simon Thomas’s diving save punched the ball to safety.

The Pumas’ play on Saturday was stellar and they took advantage of the Whitecaps’ defense, but in the end their inability to close out the away side cost them a much-needed three points.

Kitsap takes on Portland at home on Saturday, June 15, for the second time in three weeks. The last meeting of the two teams ended in a 0-0 draw.