By Rob Shore
BREMERTON, Wash. — The reality began to set in this week for the Kitsap Pumas over the brevity of the National Premier Soccer League’s schedule.
The Pumas are about to head into the teeth of their schedule — five games in 15 days starting with Saturday night’s home contest against cross-sound rival OSA FC. Kickoff for Saturday night’s game will be at 7 p.m.
The players are going into this stretch with their eyes wide open.
“Part of this league is a short quick season, so you’re going to have a lot of games packed into a short, quick timeline,” left back Mike Scharf said. “For me personally, we take it as a nice little challenge, a challenge we step up to, I would say.”
The first step is the match against OSA FC, an important contest because the two teams are tied atop the NPSL Northwest Conference Divison with four points, along with FC Mulhouse Portland.
OSA FC has ties to the Pumas (1-0-1, 4 poin) — former Puma player and assistant coach Cory Keitz is an assistant coach with the Tukwila-based team, and former Kitsap player Charlie Wilcox is on the OSA roster.
One early trend with OSA (1-1-1, 4 points) is that their games have been high scoring, having scored eight goals and allowed 11 in three games this season. OSA has allowed nine goals over the last two games alone.
But Pumas head coach Liviu Bird said that he doesn’t give any thought to those sorts of numbers.
“They did score four goals a couple games ago, so if defensively we’re soft or we think it’s going to be a walk in the park, they have the ability to punish us,” Bird said. “Every team in this league does.”
Gabe Vellum leads OSA with two goals, scoring both of them in last Saturday’s 4-4 draw against Spokane SC Shadow.
On the Pumas’ side, Uriel Herrera leads with squad with two goals, having scored in each of Kitsap’s games so far this season.
But there’s a long way to go. So the players have to keep looking forward. With a packed schedule over the next two weeks, that’s plenty to take in.
“You’ve always got to worry about the next game,” midfielder Jacob Arrieta said. “If it goes your way, great. Maybe you didn’t win a championship. But you’ve got to move on to the next one and treat it the same.”