By ROB SHORE
BREMERTON, Wash. — The Kitsap Pumas soccer team will cease operations following the 2018 National Premier Soccer League season, owner Robin Waite announced.
The team had spent a combined 10 seasons in the Premier Development League and the National Premier Soccer League, winning the 2011 PDL title and advancing to the 2014 PDL championship game.
The team also won five division titles in its 10 seasons, most recently capturing the NPSL Northwest Conference Division title in 2017.
Overall, the team finished its 10-year run in Bremerton with a record of 84 wins, 23 losses and 33 draws. The team also qualified for the U.S. Open Cup six times, making a run to the fourth round in 2016 that included an away victory over the USL’s Sacramento Republic and a historic clash against the MLS’ Seattle Sounders.
Waite cited waning attendance in making the decision, noting matchday revenue couldn’t keep up with the costs of running the club. But acknowledged the support the team received.
“I want to thank (the fans) for the support they’ve given us,” Waite told the Kitsap Sun. “The loyal fans have been fantastic, the volunteers have been superb.”
Head coach Liviu Bird, a fixture with the club as a player and coach since the team’s inception, acknowledged the impact the club had on him.
“I’ll always be grateful to Robin and the Pumas for all they did for me, as a player and as a coach,” he said. “Through my experiences with them over the past decade, this club gave me more practical experience in the game than any other.”
Mike Scharf, who captained the club for most of the season in 2018, said it was tough to hear of the news.
“It was definitely sad to hear the news that the club was closing down,” he said. “I have really appreciated the two seasons I have had with the club and I know that the club has had a positive impact on a lot of players from all around the country and the world. The Kitsap Pumas is a very recognizable name in U.S. Soccer, so it is tough to see it go.”
In their 10th and final season, the Pumas posted a 4-5-3 season that saw the club finish in third place in the Northwest Conference Division.
The team’s final game was a 1-1 draw against Spokane SC Shadow on June 30, a contest that saw Pumas winger Tomas Jamett score the equalizer in the 81st minute, volleying home a cross from Jorge Ruiz.
Bird was philosophical about his part in the team’s history.
“I’m honored to finish as the club’s last head coach after beginning the journey with them in 2009 as an 18-year-old training player,” Bird said. “I’m sad to see a club that has been such a big part of my life disappear, but that can be the nature of the game in this country for smaller clubs such as ours.”