EAST WENATCHEE - In a tale of what might have been, the 3A Sunnyside boys soccer team outplayed 4A Eastmont, a Columbia Basin League foe, for most of yesterday's match.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, Eastmont's high-powered offense dominated the field for the first 25 minutes in taking a 3-0 lead on the way to a 3-1 win over Sunnyside.
"We played the most offensive-minded team in our league," Coach Juan Pineda said of the Wildcats. "They were very accurate with their passing and they had a very cohesive system."
Pineda said Eastmont was a new foe for his team in the new CBL arrangement.
Eastmont, undefeated on the season, did all of its damage early with goals in the seventh, 15th and 25 minutes.
"They attacked a lot in the first 15 minutes," Pineda recalled. "They dominated us big time. They were very dynamic with speed and skills."
Pineda said the Wildcats were especially skilled at quickly getting the ball upfield. "We had to make adjustments to fight for possession of the ball," he said. "We had to try to slow down their attack."
Sunnyside turned the tables from there, though, as Pineda adjusted his strategy to mark Eastmont's players man to man.
The Grizzlies dominated the final 10 minutes of the first half and all of the second half. Sunnyside finally broke through in the 47th minute on a goal by Brian Galvan off an assist from Saulo Cardenas.
"We had a counter-attack going," Pineda said of the lone Grizzly goal. "We stole the ball from their forwards and moved the ball forward with three touches."
Pineda said Galvan had three other chances to score, with two shots just missing the post and another just over the crossbar. "Had we finished those chances the game would have been a lot closer," the coach said.
"I told the guys at the half let's forget about the first half and let's win the second half and have faith they're not going to score on us," Pineda said. "Had we played like that at the start (of the match) it would have been a different story."
While Sunnyside's offense dominated the field in the second half, the Grizzlies received help in goal as keepers Freddie Sanchez and Joaquin Perez combined for 10 saves against the potent Wildcat attack.
"I'm really proud of the guys," Pineda said. "We were playing against an undefeated team at their place."
Sunnyside (3-3, 5-3) returns home next Tuesday, April 10, to host West Valley.