BREMERTON, Wash. — Cory Keitz, who captained the Kitsap Pumas the past two seasons, recently signed with Nässjö FF of Sweden’s Division 3 Nordöstra Götaland. The intelligent and skillful center back featured in all 33 games as he led the club to an impressive 23-4-6 record in all competitions.
“It was a pleasure playing for Kitsap,” Keitz said. “We had a lot of success while I was there, and I got to play with a lot of very talented players. The club holds a very high standard both on and off the field, and I am happy I was able to play a role in their development.”
Keitz scored three goals for the Pumas in addition to spearheading a back line that boasted the best goals-against average in the entire PDL in 2015. He was named to the All-Western Conference team both seasons and the All-PDL team in 2014.
“Cory epitomizes what this club is about,” Pumas head coach Cameron MacDonald said. “He’s a quality player who, for one reason or another, has been overlooked thus far at the higher professional levels. He’s not been bitter about that and has instead come to Kitsap and proven in consecutive years that he’s up there with the best left-sided center backs in the country. It’s been a pleasure to work with him in and out of season, and while he’ll by missed by all, we wish him every success moving forward.”
In addition to his individual success, Keitz also helped secure a lot of hardware for Kitsap, as the squad claimed back-to-back Ruffneck Cups, back-to-back Northwest Division titles, a Western Conference title and an appearance in the PDL national final in 2014.
“Even though we found a lot of success, it does still hurt that we got so close both years yet were never able to win the national title,” Keitz said. “However, I have a lot of faith in this club, and I know they will continue to field a strong side that will have an excellent chance of accomplishing just that.”
Following the Pumas’ undefeated regular season in 2015 that ended unexpectedly with a loss in the Western Conference semifinal, Keitz elected to stay in the Kitsap area and coach youth teams for both Kitsap Alliance and Bremerton United.
“Not only has Kitsap been great to me in terms of my soccer career, but I have also really enjoyed sharing my knowledge of the game through coaching,” Keitz said. “Ever since I made the move out from Michigan, the supporters and community as a whole have been very welcoming. I am going to miss it, for sure.”
As Keitz transitions back to the daily demands of the professional game, he hopes to build upon the experience he gained in Kitsap and apply it to his impending challenge overseas.
“I am not completely sure about what to expect out of European football, but I know all the training and direction I have had will definitely help me be successful at that level,” Keitz said. “I want to thank owner Robin Waite, the entire coaching staff, the trainers, the community and everyone else who contributed to my unforgettable experience in Kitsap. I am sad to leave, but I am excited and thankful for the new challenge ahead.”