By ROB SHORE
BREMERTON, Wash. — For the only the third time since the Kitsap Pumas were founded in 2009, the end of the regular season will be the team’s finishing point.
So Saturday’s contest against Spokane SC Shadow, which has already clinched the NPSL Northwest Conference Division title, is one more opportunity for the Pumas to play for the badge and to play for pride.
And that opportunity isn’t lost upon Pumas head coach Liviu Bird.
“We have to go out on a high note, we have to represent the club and represent ourselves,” Bird said. “It’s just another game.”
Kickoff for Kitsap’s season finale will be at 7 p.m.
The contest will also be the team’s annual Cancer Awareness Night, where the team will wear pink jerseys in support of cancer awareness, which will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to a local cancer charity.
Bids for the shirts have been ongoing throughout the week and will continue during Saturday night’s game.
It could also be an opportunity for the Pumas to punctuate the season with an exclamation point, similar to how the South Korea defeated defending champion Germany 2-0 in its final game of the 2018 World Cup.
The players know it’s their last chance of the 2018 season to make such a statement.
“I think we’re going to end the season strong,” center back Jack Sluys said. “We’re going to fight and look to get three points here, get the home fans a win.”
Spokane (6-0-4, 22 points) has a three-point edge on FC Mulhouse Portland going into its contest against OSA FC on Friday night, but has already clinched the division after going 1-0-2 against the Rose City team this season.
The Pumas (4-5-2, 14 points) are looking to pin the first loss of the season on the Shadow, which features former Kitsap standouts Mike Ramos and Nick Hamer.
Ramos tormented the Pumas in a 2-2 draw on May 20, notching a goal and an assist against his former team. Alvaro Rubio scored a late penalty to earn Kitsap a point in the contest.
The Shadow then defeated the Pumas 5-0 in Spokane on June 9 as Jake Levine scored a hat trick, a feat that earned him NPSL National Player of the Week honors.
So it will likely take a big effort for Kitsap to earn that exclamation point at the end of its season.
Pumas forward Tomas Jamett thinks the team is capable of that effort.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re in the playoffs or not, we’re still going to bring 100 percent,” he said. “That’s what we always try to do and get the win.”