Wellington-The Pumas started an important 3 home game week by beating last year’s Division Champion Cocoa Expos 4-3 in Wellington. The Pumas scoring leaders were Ben Ward (2 goals), Stephen Hogan (1 goal,1 assist) and Cole Atkins who scored the game winner.
The win pulls the Pumas away from Bradenton into second place alone in the PDL Southeast Division, 4 points behind the first place Central Florida Kraze who have played one extra game. The Pumas play both Bradenton and Central Florida this week at the International Polo Club in Wellington.
The Pumas play the Bradenton Academics (third place, 9 pts.) this Wednesday at 2PM. Bradenton pounded Ajax America 4-1 on Friday. Central Florida drew to Cocoa on Friday 1-1 earning 1 point and on Saturday they beat cross town rivals Ajax America 1-0 earning 3 additional points.
Cocoa proved to be a handful with former Major League Soccer veterans “Sneaky” Pete Marino scoring two goals and South African Ivan McKinley leading their midfield. The Pumas scored 2 superb goals in the final minutes to secure the victory. Ben Ward dribbled through a strong tackle to crack a rocket shot into back of the net to make the score 3-2 Pumas. With 2 minutes remaining Cole Atkins placed a one touch, near post shot from the top of the right side penalty box that finished the game 4-3.
The match was the last home game played away from the International Polo Club. The pitch at Wellington High School was a typical narrow high school field. Much of the game was played with both teams playing over the top of defense securing field advantage and minimizing costly mistakes in the Pumas own half. The highly emotional match forced Referee Calin Znamirovshi to issue 4 yellow cards (3 to Cocoa). The Expos coach and Scottish soccer legend, Gerry Queen was hastily ejected for dissent late in the second half. The Pumas were organized and played with sound discipline. For the first time in several games the team did not allow goals created by self-destructive passing in their own half.
The Pumas are looking to gain 3 points against Bradenton on Wednesday which will put them only 1 point behind Central Florida before Saturday’s showdown. The Pumas are 3-0 at home