BREMERTON, WA— (club release) The Kitsap Pumas have re-signed Connor MacMillan, the club announced today, pending league approval. The fiery and active midfielder appeared in eight games for a total of 202 minutes for the Pumas during the 2015 season.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Kitsap for the 2016 season,” MacMillan said. “I really like the Bremerton area and enjoy the awesome community support we receive for the Pumas. I look forward to contributing to the team offensively and helping the Pumas defend their division title and ultimately win the national championship.”
MacMillan, who relies on his technical ability and quickness to break down opposing defenses, just concluded his final year playing for the University of Fraser Valley in British Columbia.
During that time, MacMillan appeared in 53 games for the Cascades, netting 14 goals, including six game-winners, adding six assists. His outstanding individual play, especially in the playoffs this past season (three goals and an assist in three games) helped lead his team to their second straight Canada West bronze medal. His outstanding individual play also earned him Canadian Interuniversity Sport Player of the Week honors.
While MacMillan has certainly thrived on the pitch over the past few years, it was his intense work ethic and fierce competitiveness that propelled him to grow into the player he is now. After attending the Pumas tryouts in 2014 and failing to secure a professional contract, MacMillan didn’t let that disappointment dissuade him from continuing to grow as a player.
Growing up playing at the youth and semiprofessional level in his hometown of Chilliwack, B.C., MacMillan is no stranger to making the most of every opportunity.
While playing in the Pacific Coast Soccer Reserve League from 2010 to 2012 for Chilliwack, MacMillan began to make a name for himself when he was the league’s top scorer in 2012.
His excellent play in the reserve league resulted in him getting called up to play in the PCSL for the Chilliwack first team in 2012 and 2013, when they won the Bradner Cup, and for Abbotsford in 2014, when they won the SoccerCity Cup, before finally joining the Pumas in 2015. The PCSL is considered to be the premier summer league in the Canadian soccer pyramid and comprises elite Canadian players, much like its PDL counterpart in the U.S.
“When I joined the Kitsap Pumas last summer, they had a very strong roster with experienced players, so I saw last season as an opportunity to work hard in training and show that I am capable of playing at that level,” MacMillan said.
Although MacMillan was one of the final players added to the roster, his competitiveness in training on a daily basis allowed him to work his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season, which culminated in a stellar performance for the young Canadian against the Seattle Sounders U23s.
“It was a difficult experience, mentally, for me to have to work so hard for a spot on the roster, but that struggle really motivated me to train hard every day and improve my game a lot technically,” MacMillan said.
As he looks forward to the coming season, MacMillan hopes to use the experience and knowledge he gained last season to help him play an even larger role in the Pumas’ push to bring their second national championship to Kitsap.
Transaction: Kitsap Pumas sign midfielder Connor MacMillan on March 14, 2016
Born: July 16, 1993
Hometown: Chilliwack, B.C.
Acquired: Signed on March 14, 2016
Gonzaga grad Nick Hamer returns to Pumas
BREMERTON, WA— (club release) The Kitsap Pumas announced today that they will be re-signing midfielder Nick Hamer, who was one of only two players to appear in all 15 games for the Pumas this past season.
“Coming into the Pumas for the second year, I hope to use everything I learned last year to not only repeat as divisional champs but also make a deeper run into the playoffs,” Hamer said.
Hamer, whose work rate served as the heartbeat of the Pumas, scored three goals and had two assists on the year. He logged a total of 987 minutes in 12 regular-season games, notching him second-most on the team.
In addition, Hamer was also named to the PDL All-Western Conference Team for his standout play and was one of three Pumas to sign a season-long loan deal with Seattle Sounders 2 of the USL, where he would go on to feature in a crucial 1-0 win against the Real Monarchs.
While Hamer’s outstanding play for the Pumas last season surely played a significant part in the club going undefeated in Northwest Division play, his commitment and passion for the game date back much farther.
“I started playing when I was about 4,” said Hamer. “At first, I would just play with my friends for fun, but as I grew up, I started to play more competitively. When I was about 10 years old, I met a guy named Tim Seely who took me under his wing and showed me just about everything I know about the game. It was with his guidance I became the player I am today.”
Hamer, who was born in Spokane, Washington, grew up playing for the River City Steelers before going on to receive a scholarship at Gonzaga University.
“I chose Gonzaga because it made the most sense for me at the time,” Hamer said. “It was the local school, so my family could still come to watch all the games, and it also gave me the opportunity to play with a bunch of players I grew up with.”
Hamer made 69 appearances for the Bulldogs, tallying six goals and nine assists. His outstanding play at the collegiate level earned him a spot on the All-West Coast Conference Freshman Team, an All-WCC Second Team selection, two All-WCC First Team honors and WCC Player of the Year his senior season in 2013.
After playing a season for the Spokane Shadow in the Evergreen Premier League, Hamer was contacted by the Pumas, who expressed an interest in signing the willful midfielder.
“When I got the call to sign with the Pumas, I was very excited,” Hamer said. “I also previously played with the Portland Timbers U23s and the North Sound SeaWolves, so I knew a lot about the Pumas as a club, and I instantly knew that it would be a great opportunity for me.”
After signing for the club, Hamer wasted no time in contributing on the field. However, playing for the Pumas meant much more to him than just the excellent results they produced on the pitch.
“Last season was awesome,” Hamer said. “It was one of the most talented teams I have been a part of, and I improved a lot during my time there last summer. Everything was super professional, organized and we had a great group of guys that challenged me every day in training to get better.”
As he looks forward to the coming season, Hamer hopes to use his experience he gained from last season to continue to do his part to help grow the club.
“I feel really good about re-signing,” Hamer said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Transaction: Kitsap Pumas sign midfielder Nick Hamer on March 17, 2016
Born: Aug. 30, 1991
Hometown: Spokane, Wash.
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Signed on March 17, 2016