Abravanel pursuing another title | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Abravanel pursuing another title

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Leon Abravanel knows a good team when he sees it. He also knows what it takes to win a championship.

A key member of South Tahoe High School’s 2003 Nevada state championship team, Abravanel can sense something special happening in Bremerton, Wash.

The first-year pro midfielder and his Kitsap Pumas are four wins away from capturing the Professional Developmental League title in the United Soccer League.

After winning the Western Conference’s Northwest Division with a 12-1-3 record, the Pumas received a first-round postseason bye. Kitsap will play host to Seattle on Saturday night and have a shot at another home playoff game if it wins.

“It’s been very good year, for sure. We were No. 1 in the nation for most of the season,” Abravanel said. “The players on this team are all young and looking to further their careers. This is a starting point for everyone and everyone is hungry to perform, not only get themselves to a high standard but to get the team there, too.”

Abravanel has played in 12 of the Pumas’ 16 games, logging 484 minutes as a defensive midfielder. His responsibilities are two-pronged.

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“I try to orchestrate the attack and keep the defense sound,” he said. “It’s certainly a lot of running. When we are on the attack, I’m expected to go forward, and on (the other side), I’m expected to initiate the defense.”

Abravanel said he’s enjoying the additional preparation time he has for games at the pro level compared to when he played college soccer at Denver and San Diego.

“It’s a higher standard, and we’ve done a great job preparing for games and getting bodies ready,” Abravanel said. “It was a lot different when you have classes, then training in the afternoons. That wears on you more than anything. Here, the games are demanding but at the same time you have time to recover and do what you need to do to get ready for the next game.”

And next games are what it’s all about at this point.

Kitsap defeated the Seattle Wolves twice during the regular season – 2-1 and 2-0. After a defeat late in the season, Abravanel said the Pumas won’t overlook any team at this stage.

“It doesn’t mean much that we beat them twice. The only thing that gives us confidence is that they are a beatable team. We need to come out fierce and ready to play because they are a good team,” Abravanel said.

Fans can follow Abravanel’s team in the postseason by going to kitz1400.com. Abravanel knows people from home will be listening.

“I thank everyone in the Tahoe community for their continued support, including my parents. People have been amazing with their support,” Abravanel said.