SPOKANE - The Sunnyside High School boys soccer team saw its season come to a close this past Saturday in the second round of the Regional playoffs.
The Grizzlies suffered a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to East Valley-Spokane (13-4), a team that dropped down from the 4A ranks this past year.
"They were a solid team," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda. "They have some tough defense. We just couldn't buy a goal."
The advantage of playing on their home field was really obvious for the Knights. Pineda said it was raining on Saturday and the Grizzlies weren't used to playing in such conditions, which is common in the Spokane area in the spring. Pineda said the Knights were effective in being able to slide to block a shot and then bounce right back up to continue with the play. Pineda said his Grizzlies slipped a lot and had trouble keeping their footing.
But the Grizzlies still had their shots, especially in the first half, at scoring. Sunnyside had two shots on goal that went high and another shot that went wide that should have gone in during the first half, said Pineda.
East Valley-Spokane's goalie also had two tremendous saves on powerful shots taken by Sunnyside's Junior Garcia.
The game was fastpaced, said Pineda, which could have figured into what occurred against the Grizzlies in the second half. Just before East Valley-Spokane scored the go-ahead goal, the Grizzlies had a ball that rolled over the line in what should have been a goal for Sunnyside. The officials couldn't get back in time to see it was a goal and before anything could have been done, the Knights keeper had put the ball back in play.
"It is one of those things that happens in soccer," said Pineda. "I am not mad at the official."
The Knights ended up scoring at the 63rd minute off a rebound on a shot Grizzly keeper Sam Wise blocked.
"We had a lot of people in the box," said Pineda.
Pineda said the Knights were able to push the ball past Wise on a good play off a shot that he had blocked.
The second goal by East Valley-Spokane was a thing of beauty, said Pineda. The goal came at the 77th minute. Pineda said he had to sacrifice some of his defenders to make a push at scoring. The Knights were able to break loose on a long ball and get off a shot at the 18. The ball ended up kissing the side of the post, scooting past a stretched out Wise.
The Grizzlies outshot East Valley-Spokane 18 to 16 on goal. Pineda said Sunnyside hammered the Knights' area in the last 10 minutes of the game, but still couldn't get a shot in the net.
Wise had a tremendous game in goal for the Grizzlies with eight saves while East Valley-Spokane's keeper had 10 saves.
Pineda said the Knights are a team much better than Hanford. He said they are technically sound and very disciplined on defense.
"They could recover fast," said Pineda of the Knights. "They never stopped being aggressive. They were disciplined on how they closed the gaps."
Pineda said Saturday seemed like it just wasn't meant to be for the Grizzlies, as they couldn't score.
"It was a good loss to a good team," said Pineda, explaining that despite the defeat his team played well. "I am content with how we played. It wasn't the day for us to get (the win)."
The Grizzlies finished their season 7-4 in Mid-Valley League play and 12-5 on the season. Sunnyside had 66 goals on the year with 17 players scoring. Pineda said everyone that played varsity scored but Wise, and that was only because he is the keeper.
"It was a good season for us," said Pineda. "We really know how to play with each other."