The Sunnyside High School boys soccer team is going to have to come up with another strategy to beat West Valley, because simply outplaying the Rams isn't getting it done.
The Grizzlies and West Valley hooked up in another classic encounter this past Saturday in Sunnyside in a game that was a sharp contrast from the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the season.
This time around, the Rams needed a shootout to get past Sunnyside in the 2-1 victory.
The win was a significant one for West Valley, as the Rams regained some momentum heading into Tuesday's home encounter with Grandview. The Greyhounds upset West Valley earlier in the season behind a dominating second half.
The loss might serve as a motivator for the Grizzlies (7-3, 9-3) heading into Tuesday's road game against Hanford, which sits atop the Mid-Valley League with an unblemished record.
The first encounter between the two teams was a physical one where each side tried to make a dominating statement with their style of play. Saturday's game took on more the finesse style of soccer, with the exception of a few moments when the Rams were on their heels. A lot of the play in Saturday's game took part around the midfield, as West Valley loaded up on defense to stop what had been a potent Grizzly offense.
Sunnyside struck first on the Rams when sophomore Silvano Ramos scored off an assist from Junior Garcia at the 38th minute.
The Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead into the break. The Rams came out in the second half and made their usual charge, but this one came rather early for West Valley. The Rams' Mark Schubert, son of West Valley Coach John Schubert, took advantage of a defensive mistake by the Grizzlies to score at the fourth minute of the second half.
The two teams battled for much of the rest of the second half. The game got so intense that the West Valley coach picked up a yellow card midway through the second half for arguing with the center official.
Regulation play ended in a 1-1 tie. Sunnyside dominated play in the both five-minute overtime periods, but the Rams' defense held strong. The game then went to a shootout. Both Sunnyside and West Valley scored on its first three attempts. Luis Galvan, Garcia and Diego Mendoza scored the first three goals in the shootout. Sunnyside missed the fourth shot, but Grizzly keeper Johnny Hernandez came up with a dramatic block to maintain the tie. Rafa Diego then scored the fifth kick, which was followed by West Valley scoring. After the first five kicks of the shootout, the format changed to the teams going shot for shot with one another. Luis Ochoa scored for the Grizzlies and then West Valley scored. Sunnyside missed the seventh kick of the shootout when Ram keeper Corey Wehr blocked the final Grizzly attempt.
"It was a great game," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda. "It was played like a championship game. When you take a game to penalty kicks it can go either way."
Despite the loss, Pineda said he wasn't disappointed with the way his team played.
"West Valley made a lot of changes from the first time we played them," said Pineda.
Pineda said coach Schubert went into the game concentrating on slowing down Luis Galvan. Pineda said Coach Schubert believes Galvan is the centerpiece to the Grizzlies' offense. Pineda said the Rams coach put his son on Galvan.
"That slowed down on the connections," said Pineda.
West Valley's defense also did a nice job of hindering the connections between Garcia and Mario De La Torre. West Valley played with five defenders in Saturday's game. The two Grizzly forwards have been blowing past other teams this season.
"Every time Junior and Mario received, they couldn't turn," said Pineda.
Sunnyside had six corner kicks to West Valley's three while the Grizzlies out shot West Valley 6 to 5 on goal.
"West Valley didn't know if they were going to win the game," said Pineda. "We took some risks. They took some risks. We had some good opportunities."
Pineda said the only major mistake his team made was missing its defensive marking early in the second half when West Valley scored.
Pineda is optimistic about Tuesday's game at Hanford.
"They are a very tactical team," said Pineda. "I am going in there with confidence. I think we will be fine."