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Grizzlies take care of pesky Vikings

Rams travel to Sunnyside this Saturday

SELAH - The Sunnyside High School boys soccer team made a bit of a statement last night against one of the tougher teams in the Mid-Valley League.

The Grizzlies took care of a tenacious Selah squad on the road, winning 3-1.

"I am happy," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda. "That was a good win. Selah is a good team."

The Grizzlies needed a shootout to get past Selah earlier in the season, winning 1-0.

Last night's win comes on the heels of what will surely be another hotly contested encounter this Saturday afternoon, as West Valley makes its way into the Grizzly den for a noon game.

In last night's contest, Sunnyside scored relatively early off a corner kick at the 15th minute of the opening half. Kyle Van de Graaf drilled in a header from a set play the Grizzlies ran. Luis Galvan took the corner kick.

"It was a beautiful header," said Pineda.

The Grizzlies nursed a 1-0 lead at the half.

Not content with their slim lead, Sunnyside came out attacking in the second half. Joel Jimenez popped a ball over the Selah defense with help from teammate Silvano Ramos in the opening minute to give Sunnyside a 2-0 lead.

Selah scored at the fifth minute of the second half when Sunnyside keeper Johnny Hernandez received a yellow card for picking up the ball outside the box. Pineda had to go to his back-up keeper Rafael Martinez, who entered the game without being warmed up. Selah's top player, Al Valencia, converted the direct kick by the Vikings to cut Sunnyside's lead to 2-1.

Sunnyside's Junior Garcia responded at the 18th with his 20th goal of the season. Pineda said for the last two seasons, Selah has pitted the same defender against Garcia, causing the reigning Mid-Valley League player of the year some headaches. Pineda said the Grizzlies pumped up Garcia to make a run at his Selah defender in the second half and he was finally able to break through with an assist from teammate Miguel Galvan.

"Selah held their own," said Pineda. "Selah was dangerous. They were attacking us."

Pineda said he knew going into the game that Sunnyside would have to be aggressive to get past Selah's stellar defensive unit.

"We needed to go out strong and aggressive and it worked for us," said Pineda.

Pineda credits the play of Van de Graaf at right defender and Jimenez in the midfield with slowing down Selah's attack.

"Kyle had an outstanding game," said Pineda.

Sunnyside outshot Selah 15 to 12 on goal. Hernandez had 10 saves for the Grizzlies while Selah's Josh Jacobs had nine saves.

The Grizzlies (7-2, 9-2) will be looking to avenge one of only two defeats they have had this season, on Saturday when West Valley comes in to town. Sunnyside lost the first encounter 4-3 mainly due to mistakes the Grizzlies made in the game. Pineda said in the first game, Sunnyside allowed a penalty kick it shouldn't have and then scored another goal for West Valley that made the difference.

"The one thing we have to avoid is making errors," said Pineda. "I have confidence that we can get them if we play the way we have been playing. If we get a good crowd out in the stadium it will help us in the game."

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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