The best way to describe what the Sunnyside High School boys soccer team did to 4A Davis in last night's non-league season opener might be to say the Grizzlies took it to another level.
Amazing ball movement, reacting to every play, backing up each other on the field. All of these vital elements to playing a successful soccer game were present last night for the Grizzlies as they shut out the Pirates 7-0.
"It is the same system as last year," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda, who took the Grizzlies to the 3A State tournament last year for the first time in a decade. "We are doing the same good things we were doing at the end of last year, but we are doing them at a different pace."
The first half of last night's game saw both teams trying to dictate the pace of the game. The Grizzlies finally broke through when Junior Garcia, the reigning Mid-Valley League player of the year, scored at the 21st minute. Garcia would add another goal right before the end of the first half at the 36th minute. Teammate German Torres had the other first half goal, coming at the 26th minute.
Leading 3-0, Sunnyside's Luis Galvan took away any hopes the Pirates had of coming back when he scored a goal at the 54th minute of the second half. Teammates Miguel Galvan, Kyle Van de Graaf and Mario de la Torre all scored in the final couple of minutes to give the Grizzlies the 7-0 shutout victory to start the season.
Grizzly keeper Johnny Hernandez, who had nine saves on the day, preserved the shutout victory for Sunnyside when he stopped a penalty kick with 16 minutes to play in the game. Pineda said he was very pleased with how Hernandez played in the box for Sunnyside. Hernandez showed last night he was capable of replacing the big shoes of former Grizzly keeper David Ruelas, who graduated after last season.
Davis had 12 shots on goal. Acension Abundez had 12 saves in what was a busy night for the Pirate goalie.
The Grizzlies had 14 shots on goal.
Pineda said he is working on implementing a rotating system that has everyone involved in the game. The system would involve players moving up in different spots on the field while other teammates fall back to fill the voids.
"We kept improving our play during the game while the other team couldn't stand our pressure," said Pineda.
Pineda said his players still need to work on picking up players faster. The Grizzly coach said during the game the Pirates were able to move players around quickly and Sunnyside struggled to find them on the field.
Pineda said he was very impressed with his team's outing for the first game of the season.
"I think the difference was our team came out hungry," said Pineda. "The difference is now (compared with last season) they are playing by instinct. This is the next level."
The Grizzlies (1-0) are off until Tuesday, March 23, when Sunnyside travels to Prosser for a 4 p.m. game. The league game will be played at the football stadium.