CONNELL - If the Sunnyside High School boys soccer team wants to be considered a serious playoff team, the Grizzlies are going to have to get past Hanford this Saturday.
Sunnyside tuned up for Saturday's showdown with the Falcons by charging past Connell last night in a non-league game, winning 6-3.
"It was a fun game," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda.
Pineda said the best part of the game was the sportsmanship that the Eagles, who took runner-up honors in the State tournament two years ago, exhibited.
"It was a good experience," said Pineda. "I was impressed with them."
Even perhaps more impressive than the character shown by Connell was the play of Sunnyside's Miguel Galvan, who had a hat trick and an assist in last night's game.
Pineda said that the Grizzlies didn't go with a full group last night, as several seniors stayed behind to work on their senior projects. As a result, Pineda played with a limited bench. Galvan ended up playing four positions last night, starting out as a sweeper. Galvan then made his way over to a stopper position before moving to center midfield. Galvan completed his rounds by playing at his usual spot on the left side of the midfield.
Galvan had his first goal of the game at the 28th minute of the opening half, scoring off an indirect kick. Galvan then added another goal at the 59th minute from an assist by Daniel Ramos. Galvan's final goal came at the 64th minute off an assist from Junior Garcia. Galvan had the assist on Garcia's goal at the 62nd minute.
"He played really well with high intensity," said Pineda of Galvan, adding that the Grizzly played like a leader on the field.
Sunnyside scored the first goal of the game when Jose Ramos headed the ball in at the 20th minute off an assist from Garcia. Matt Jongsma scored at the 52nd minute of the match.
Connell scored back-to-back goals in the first half, coming at the 34th and 39th minutes. The Eagles' last goal came at the 63rd minute.
Sunnyside out shot the Eagles 14 to 10 on goal with Grizzly keeper Sam Wise recording seven saves.
"They have a solid program," said Pineda of Connell. "They were real aggressive. It was fun to play them because the ball was up and down."
Pineda said Sunnyside was simply able to connect better with each other in last night's game, a problem the Grizzlies had in this past Tuesday's loss to Prosser.
The Grizzlies (6-3, 10-3) are faced with basically a must win on Saturday at Hanford if they even have a thought of battling West Valley for the second seed into the postseason.
"If we want to win a District and a Regional title, we have to go through them," said Pineda. "We have played well against them. We just need to confirm we are a good team."