YAKIMA - After countless, hard fought, gut wrenching outings against one of the premiere soccer programs in the Western United States, Sunnyside High School boys soccer coach Juan Pineda got the win that he has been coveting since he started coaching a few years ago.
Pineda and his Grizzlies took down the West Valley Rams on their home field Saturday, winning 3-1, following a dominating second half.
"It is like putting the ball in its place," said an elated Pineda, describing the victory. "I wasn't going to feel satisfied (as a coach) until I beat this team. This is a milestone for us."
The notable part of this victory is that the Grizzlies did so without Sunnyside all-star Junior Garcia scoring one goal.
The stars of Saturday's outing were sophomore Alex Aguilar and keeper Sam Wise.
The Grizzlies got on the board at the 13th minute when Rafa Diego took a shot on West Valley's keeper, who blocked the ball. Aguilar followed through on the blocked shot and put the ball into the back of the net.
The Rams would score their only goal of the game at the 27th minute when Geoff Goodwill took advantage of a defensive mistake to get the best of Wise in a one-on-one situation.
The Grizzlies got their second goal of the game at the fifth minute of the second half. Daniel Ramos got the goal off a play when Garcia and Aguilar were battling a group of West Valley defenders for the ball. During the play, West Valley's keeper came out of his area, allowing Ramos to boot the ball in.
Pineda said a key momentum builder in the second half came actually off a goal that was called back. Diego took the penalty kick for Sunnyside after Garcia was taken down by West Valley inside the 18. The shot by Diego hit the cross bar, but Aguilar was there to put the ball in. However, Aguilar was called for being offsides.
"That was a great opportunity," said Pineda, who felt the series helped the Grizzlies establish momentum.
The Grizzlies' final goal came at the 57th minute when Aguilar scored off an assist from Hugo Morales.
While Garcia didn't score he did command the respect of the West Valley defenders.
"His presence draws a lot of defenders to him," said Pineda.
Pineda said Garcia drew a crowd of West Valley defenders, which allowed more Sunnyside players to become involved with what was going on.
Both teams were rather even statistically. Both Sunnyside and West Valley had 12 shots apiece on goal. Wise collected eight saves in the box, as did the West Valley keeper.
Pineda said Aguilar had an impressive game while Wise provided a calm presence in the box for the Grizzlies.
"He doesn't get worried," said Pineda of Wise. "I am content with how he did."
Pineda couldn't say enough about the efforts of his entire team on Saturday.
"It was good discipline by our team," said Pineda. "It was definitely a tactical game."
Pineda said the best part of the game on Saturday was that the entire team stuck to the game plan.
The Sunnyside coach was also pleased with the way his team withstood West Valley's charge in the last 10 minutes of the game.
"In the final 10 minutes, West Valley was fighting for everything," said Pineda. "They put a lot of pressure on us."
The Grizzlies (2-0, 4-0) travel to Prosser this Saturday.
"They have some good returners," said Pineda of the Mustangs.