It just seemed the Sunnyside High School boys soccer team needed a few days of rest after a hectic week.
The Grizzlies put on their most dazzling home field display of the year in last night's 3-1 victory over Selah.
The win gives Sunnyside (7-4, 11-4) some life heading into the postseason. The Grizzlies are currently in third place, but based on the point system that is utilized in the league, Sunnyside could still finish as high as second. But the Grizzlies need a little bit of help from their friends, the Hanford Falcons. First, Sunnyside has to take care of business this Saturday in the Grizzlies' regular season finale at Central Washington University against cellar-dwelling Ellensburg. A win by the Grizzlies and a loss by West Valley would give Sunnyside a second place finish in the Mid-Valley League, despite being a game behind the Rams in the standings.
Where the Grizzlies would gain ground on the Rams would be in the points system that is utilized by the league. Teams are awarded points based on the type of victory they earned in a game. With the Grizzlies winning on Saturday and West Valley losing to the Falcons, both teams would finish with 25 points. Sunnyside would earn second place in the league and a postseason game in Spokane next week as a result of having a higher number in case of a tiebreaker. The athletic directors drew numbers at the beginning of the season to help decide tiebreakers. The Grizzlies have the advantage on West Valley in such a situation.
The only problem for Grizzly fans is that West Valley will be hosting the Falcons on the Rams' home field. Another issue is that West Valley has become a much better team than the first time those two teams met, which saw league leading and undefeated Hanford come away with a 1-0 victory. A win by West Valley would give the Grizzlies a number three seed.
But back to last night's regular season home finale. Entertaining is not quite the word to describe the game against the always tough Vikings.
"It was an exciting game," said Pineda. "I think Selah did a really good job defensively in the first half."
Selah, which is known primarily as a strong defensive team, had to rely on the efforts of its backfield to hold off a thunderous Grizzly charge. There were many times in the first half when Sunnyside embarrassed Selah's defense to only have the excitement the Grizzly players were showing in the game do them in.
While Sunnyside put on a dazzling first half display, the Grizzlies really kept the game closer than it had to be. Sunnyside had excellent looks that just ended wide or the Grizzlies not being able to link together effectively to score.
There were very few times when Selah was not defending its side of the field in the first half.
Jose Ramos finally put the Grizzlies on the board at the 21st minute of the opening half off a ball fed by Junior Garcia, who looked back in form.
The Vikings, though, came out much stronger in the second half, as they were able to attack Sunnyside more. Pineda said the Vikings simply brought more players on the offensive attack, overwhelming the Grizzly defense.
But Sunnyside's young defensive unit showed a lot of maturity last night, fending off Selah's attacks for the most part.
The Vikings' lone goal came at the 46th minute when Richard Brooks scored off an assist from Andrew Mobley. The goal happened when Grizzly keeper Sam Wise came out to contest the ball and the shot rolled past him.
But despite the mistake, Wise played a smart game in goal for Sunnyside. Pineda said he was impressed with how Wise played last night.
The problems the Grizzlies had in the second half, besides dealing with a much more organized Selah attack, was them trying to make things happen off playing a series of long balls that flew all over the place. Pineda said Selah struggled when the Grizzlies got back to moving the ball on the ground.
This is where the excitement started for Sunnyside fans. To be able to contest West Valley in the point standings, the Grizzlies needed to win during regulation. Selah wasn't quite as cooperative.
The Grizzlies finally broke loose behind the play of their two leaders, Garcia and Miguel Galvan. Galvan scored off a throw-in from Garcia at the 76th minute and then the two combined three minutes later when Garcia planted one in the back of the net.
Pineda said Garcia showed real leadership during the game and also had praise for the efforts of Alex Aguilar at center midfield.
"It wasn't an easy game," said Pineda.