Strikes by DeLuna, Heggerness push Kitsap Pumas to second place

Kitsap_Pumas_logo.svgTUKWILA, Wash. — Ismael DeLuna snapped Kitsap’s scoring drought with a header in the 24th minute, and 17-year-old Keeton Heggerness scored on his debut to put the contest away as the Pumas defeated OSA FC 2-0 at Starfire Stadium on Wednesday night.

The victory — which ended as a 9-v-9 contest as four red cards were handed out after a chaotic confrontation late — helped push Kitsap (4-3-2, 14 points) into the playoff places of the NPSL Northwest Conference Division.

It also ended a two-game losing streak for the Pumas, which moved into second place in the division ahead of FC Mulhouse Portland.

“It’s important,” DeLuna said. “We just came off a loss in Spokane and against PDX. So we knew it was an important game. We had to get a win and we got it. So yeah, very important.”

Kitsap keeper Marc Girones made six saves in the contest, posting his second clean sheet of the season.

“Obviously, the final result is what we wanted,” Pumas head coach Liviu Bird said. “I think it’s a product of the way we played and our focus defensively, especially in the second half.”

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OSA (2-6-2, 8 points) suffered its second loss to Kitsap this season, both at Starfire.

DeLuna got the Pumas going in the 24th minute on a header from a corner that spun past OSA goalkeeper Rodney Greiling. It snapped a 243-minute Kitsap scoring drought since the last goal — also scored by DeLuna.

DeLuna, a former North Kitsap High School standout, said the goal was important in a first half that saw OSA creating plenty of scoring chances.

“It gave us the momentum we needed,” he said, “and it worked out in our favor. It got us the three points.”

For the Pumas, the biggest moment in the contest came in the 80th minute, when constant pressure paid on OSA paid off when Adama Kante crossed to Heggerness directly in front of goal. The teenager all but ripped the twine with a thunderous strike.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get in,” said Heggerness, who just graduated from Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor. “I’m a 17-year-old. I was just happy when he put me in. I just wanted to go in and contribute.”

Bird couldn’t help but admire the strike from his debutant that helped to ice the contest.

“Great finish, I mean, there was no doubt about that one, was there?” he said. “He smashed it, and it was definitely going in the back of the net. Really happy for him.”

Kitsap could have added to the tally, but OSA keeper Rodney Greiling saved a penalty by Alvaro Rubio in the 67th minute. It was the third time this season in five tries that the Pumas weren’t able to convert a penalty.

The triumph — snapping a two-game losing streak — was marred by a confrontation late over a hard tackle by Kevin Stordahl on Uriel Herrera just outside the OSA penalty area.

Temper flared, which led to some pushing and shoving, resulting in straight reds being handed out to Stordahl, Herrera, Kante and OSA’s Jay Weinman.

The result sets up a big five days with two games against FC Mulhouse Portland (3-2-4, 13 points), which likely will determine the division postseason picture. The two sides will first meet on Saturday in Vancouver, Wash. in a 6 p.m. kickoff.

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