This coming Tuesday night will mark an encounter that will set the tone for who will be the league soccer power in the Mid-Valley League this season.
The Grizzlies (2-0, 4-0) will travel to West Valley for a much-anticipated match-up of the two league rivals. The rivalry between West Valley and Sunnyside actually goes back a couple of years, but the two teams really took their play to another level last season with a couple of classic match-ups, including one that eliminated the Grizzlies from the State playoffs.
"It is one of the biggest tests we will have this season," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda of tomorrow's game.
But while most soccer fans were likely looking ahead to tomorrow's pairing, Selah proved this past Saturday it belonged in the upper echelon of the Mid-Valley League.
After winning a hard-fought contest over a tough Grandview team last week, the Vikings gave Sunnyside all it wanted on Saturday. The two teams battled to a scoreless tie during regulation. After two scoreless overtime periods, the Grizzlies took the game in a shootout. Sunnyside won the shootout 3-1 when freshman Hugo Morales scored to give the Grizzlies the win.
"I picked him because he does good during practice," said Pineda of the freshman.
Pineda said he felt Morales showed the maturity to play at the level the game went to on Saturday.
Also scoring in the shootout for the Grizzlies were Junior Garcia and Luis Galvan.
The story besides Morales on Saturday was the heroics of senior Sunnyside keeper Johnny Hernandez, who blocked the first three shots by Selah in the shootout.
"Johnny played a sensational game," said Pineda. "Johnny was focused."
Pineda said the problem for his team on Saturday was Selah simply played great defense.
"We couldn't break through their defense," said Pineda. "They had great marking. They made us force our shots."
Sunnyside did miss three clear shots on goal, one coming in the first half that hit the crossbar. The other two missed Sunnyside goals were in the second half, one of which was a solid save by Selah keeper Josh Jacobs.
Pineda said he went into the game concentrating on the fact Sunnyside needed to slow Selah down defensively. Pineda said Selah has two strong forwards that Sunnyside had to stop.
Pineda said Kyle Van de Graaf, Diego Mendoza and Rafa Diego played well on the defensive side of the ball.
Sunnyside outshot Selah 15 to 10 on goal. Hernandez had five saves in regulation and three during the shootout. Jacobs had nine saves for the Vikings.
"I don't feel bad," said Pineda about the close win. "We played a really good team. They have improved a lot from last year."