From the very beginning of a rainy and cold night at Mount Tahoma Athletic Field, Kitsap Pumas SC exhibited their superiority over FC Tacoma 253 in Wednesday night’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup First Round match pitting the one-time national champion from the PDL against Tacoma’s brand-new NPSL side. The Pumas put their stamp on each half by scoring within minutes of kickoff in building a five-goal lead, before Tacoma were able to retrieve a measure of harmless glory through two late goals.
Pumas pounce early
With four previous Open Cup appearances and a PDL championship on their resume, the Kitsap Pumas entered the match as a heavy favorite against the first-year club and displayed why from the opening whistle. The action immediately shifted from the center circle to Kitsap’s offensive third of the field until a Mike Ramos cross connected with an unmarked Joe Masumiya, who utilized a wide-open goal to open the scoring.
The Pumas showed no sign of conservatism with their early lead, continuing to dominate possession and keeping the Tacoma midfield backed deep into their own half, near enough to the backline to communicate freely without needing to shout. Kitsap forced Tacoma into clearance mode while carrying the early play.
Tacoma’s Trio of Huge Chances
Under heavy attack, Tacoma was left with little to do but defend and look for a counter-attacking chance. In the 13th minute, Kiitsap nearly delivered them a huge one. A back pass to Cory Keitz bounced over the head of the central defender (or “stopper” as the SC apparently call their fullbacks) who was lingering at the center line. Tacoma’s Gareth Vaughn was instantly on the ball and breaking toward the Pumas goal, but the chance ended when Vaughn, with no support arriving, launched a hopeful shot from near the corner of the 18-yard box, troubling nobody, much less Pumas keeper Matt Grosey.
Vaughn and Keitz would connect again in the 23rd minute to create an almost-chance for Tacoma. A long ball into the area seemed to require little more than a routine clearance for Keitz, but his header found the back of fellow defender Buba Findi’s head, putting the ball again in Vaughn’s path. And, again, Vaughn opted to shoot early with less-than-dangerous results.
In the 27th minute, Tacoma goalkeeper Ryan Herman. a University of Washington product, took a free kick from 20 yards into his own half of the pitch and delivered it on the other side of the Kitsap defense, connecting with fellow former Husky Steven Wright, who couldn’t control his attempt well enough to avoid the gloves of Grosey.
Speed and Technical Skill Kill
Kitsap, having avoided conceding the equalizer through either errant pass or the long free kick, continued their relentless assault on the Tacoma goal, with offsides calls and defender Eli Seye playing a large role in keeping it a one-goal game.
But then Ramos struck again in minute 32, playing an onside Carlos Patino through for a one-on-one chance with Herman. Patino’s feint drew Herman into taking a diving stab at the ball, but Patino lightly danced around the outstretched gloves of the Tacoma keeper and slid the ball into goal from a narrow angle for the 2-0 lead.
Six minutes later, it was Patino delivering the service, though not to Ramos and through a longer ball, crossing from the left half of the midfield into the path of Misumaya who was streaking through an empty right flank toward the Tacoma area. Misumaya deftly pulled the ball down and withstood a shove from behind to drive forward and deliver the third goal past Herman, which would carry into halftime.
The Early Dagger
Nothing renders a halftime motivation speech as flaccid as does a quick goal-against in the second half. Whatever Tacoma coach Filippo Milano had told his crew in the locker room minutes before, Masumiya and Jacob Bond had the antidote. Masumiya added an assist to his two goals by curling a corner kick for Bond to meet with a well-targeted header to make it 4-0, barely two minutes after play had resumed.
As Kitsap continued to play aggressively in offense, even with the four-goal lead, Tacoma began to let their frustrations show. Minutes after the Bond goal, Pedro Millan delivered a heavy tackle near midfield to earn the match’s first yellow and the first of four Tacoma would see in the second half.
Patino got his second goal of the night in the 57th minute in what was nearly a mirror image of his first on the opposite side of the pitch.
This time, it was Trevor Jensen getting the ball to the goal-scoring midfielder, who again found himself circumnavigating Herman and scoring from a tight angle as he neared the goal line to the left of the Tacoma goal.
Whether Kitsap was tired from dominating possession and running amok, Tacoma did not allow their guests to pull back comfortably, continuing to increase the physical-nature of their play and pressing for a pair of late goals of their own.
A Steven Pirotte foul stopped play in the 73rd minute so the referee could deliver the match’s second caution. It was, in itself, not a spectacular moment. However, as the referee moved to deal with Pirotte, Tacoma defender Colin Dalrymple threw his body into that of Trevor Jensen, sending the smaller Pumas player hurtling to the turf. Dalrymple was fortunate to not be sent off for what was a needless post-whistle attack.
Having evaded detection on the play, Dalrymple lent his head to Pedro Millan’s long free kick into the Kitsap box, triggering a series of attempts that ended in Steven Wright’s goal to cut Tacoma’s deficit to four with 15 minutes remaining.
Despite the lopsided score line and the dwindling play time, however, the play of the match had yet to arrive.
After Dalrymple and Matt Shaxton collected their own yellow cards for Tacoma, Kitsap earned their sole caution for an outstretched hand that impeded a ball headed into the area. With the ball placed just outside the area, Millan, who had tested Gorley earlier from a much longer distance, confidently took charge of the set-piece and delivered a lovely curling ball just inside the far post and well enough out of Gorley’s reach to finish the scoring on the night, just two minutes from time.