Rams rally to win another classic
by Michael Kantman
It was only fitting that the end of Saturday's high school boys soccer game between Sunnyside and visiting West Valley came down to the best player in the Mid-Valley League and one of the top goalies. But more on that later.
The Grizzlies and the Rams squared off in another unbelievable battle that by the time it was said and done left casualties on both sides.
West Valley avenged an earlier season loss to Sunnyside with a brutal 4-3 victory, after winning a nerve racking, breath taking 12-11 shootout. The Rams rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to win the game.
"We played a great game," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda.
The Grizzlies did indeed play a great game, but the only problem for Sunnyside was the times when they lacked less than the needed amount of intensity to battle the Rams.
"We didn't make too many errors, but the errors we made cost goals," said Pineda.
The Grizzlies looked as if they were going to blow the Rams out of the water on Saturday, scoring two early goals. Sunnyside's Junior Garcia scored at the 10th minute of the game off an assist by Matt Jongsma. Garcia later scored off a penalty kick at the 17th minute. The Rams looked lost early in the game, as Sunnyside was able to make runs almost seemingly at will.
Sunnyside, though, made a crucial mistake at the 24th minute. Sunnyside's center midfielder had been pulled down by a West Valley player, but instead of playing on, the Grizzlies were trying to get a call from the official. West Valley kept charging and the play ended with Geoff Goodwill scoring off an assist from Mark Schubert.
The Grizzlies took a 2-1 lead into the second half.
"We kept fighting," said Pineda. "West Valley was just very aggressive in fighting for every ball."
The injuries started to pile up for Sunnyside in the second half, as the game took on a more physical tone. The Grizzlies started losing players to injuries in the second half.
At the 58th minute, the Grizzlies looked as if they were going to walk away with the game after Rogelio Chavez scored off a crossed ball from Garcia.
West Valley wasn't done, though. Mark Schubert ended up scoring off a penalty kick after a Grizzly defender was called for touching the ball with his arm inside the 18. Pineda said Sunnyside should have cleared the ball out, but wasn't able to do so.
The game tying goal brings plenty of questions for Mid-Valley League soccer fans. Schubert tied the game about two or three minutes into stoppage time. However, the officials had put an unusual amount of stoppage time on their clocks, totalling five minutes in all. The third goal by the Rams was another shot that Sunnyside's defense should have cleared.
After playing two five-minute overtime periods without scoring the game went to a shootout.
Pineda made the move of pulling sophomore keeper Sam Wise for Chavez. Pineda said the move had nothing to do with the faith he has in Wise as keeper.
"We had to use the keeper with the best qualities for PKs," said Pineda. "Rogelio really wanted it."
The shootout was an amazing exchange between the two teams that kept a hearty crowd entranced. In all, the two teams took 16 shots in the shootout, with West Valley finally winning 12 to 11.
The end for the Grizzlies came when West Valley keeper Andres Hernandez made a beautiful stop on a shot by Garcia, who tried to lift one under the right corner of the net. Garcia had scored before in the first go-around of the shootout. Chavez wasn't able to stop West Valley's Adi Viveros from scoring on West Valley's next shot, giving the Rams the win.
The Rams outshot Sunnyside 12 to 9 on goal. Wise had seven saves for the Grizzlies and Hernandez finished with six.
Pineda said Saturday's game was just another notable meeting between the two teams.
"West Valley doesn't come to control Sunnyside," said Pineda of the Rams style of play. "They come to use their size. They know we have better skills."
Sunnyside (6-2, 9-2) will host Prosser this Tuesday.