Kitsap’s newest era in the world of soccer kicked off with a bang May 7 as Michael Divano’s hat trick led the Port Orchard Football Club to an 8-0 romp over Steel United FC.
About 625 fans came to Kitsap Bank Stadium to usher in the semi-pro team’s inaugural season. The crowd included casual fans, soccer enthusiasts and the Sidney City Supporters, a small group that marched to the match from Town Square.
Sam Ironside, the club’s general manager, said it was incredible to see so many supporters this early in the program’s life. “It gets better and better. We’ve done a great job marketing, and just to see it come to life is perfect,” he said.
Just over 100 fewer people attended the prior week’s friendly, a 1-0 loss to Nido Aguila Seattle 2. Coach Patrick Leonard said that worked as a stress reliever coming into league play. “As a team, we were all pretty honest with ourselves. We looked pretty nervy at the start of it,” he said. “Today, you could tell that was all shaken off ,and we were able to just play the game we wanted to play.”
It did not take long to see improved play. A pass from Sam Meade found Nick Riders in the middle of the field, who sent the ball into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead in the match’s first minutes. Divano doubled the lead midway through the first half. Beginning with a second Devino goal in the match’s 30th minute, the club managed four goals in just a span of 10 minutes. When the whistle blew for the half’s end, POFC had a 6-0 lead and had scored on two-thirds of its on-goal shots.
Leonard said it was a real team performance. “I mean, we’re scrappy on the outsides, and we’re just freeing up movement for each other. You can tell guys are making runs knowing they’re not getting the ball but that it’s going to give somebody else the opportunity to get the ball.”
Things slowed in the second half, but not before Devino finished another drive off with a goal. He humbly said after the match: “I’m just finding the net, I guess. That’s what I need to do.”
Leonard added: “Michael’s the epitome of how we want to attack. The way he’s coming in, and not just his finishing, but his movement. He said the team made a big statement to the rest of the Cascadia Premier League. “The turnout was fantastic, but for us to just come start on the right foot’s the big thing, and not just to get a win but to get a win playing the style of soccer we want to play,” he said.