EAST WENATCHEE - The Sunnyside High School soccer team has relied on its defense all season long. This past Saturday was no different as the Grizzlies posted their fifth straight shutout by beating the Eastmont Wildcats 1-0.
The win gives Sunnyside a 9-3 mark and its first ever Columbia Basin League title.
"This was a very exciting game," Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda said. "It felt like a championship match."
The Grizzlies did what they've done all season long, come out with a relentless attack.
"We immediately started taking shots," he said. "We were moving the ball very well."
Pineda gave credit to Eastmont keeper Jose Gladine, who made some extremely good saves in the first 10 minutes of Saturday's match.
"But we kept working," Pineda recalled. "The first 10 minutes of the match we made them look weak."
But the Wildcats soon broke out of their funk and Pineda said the last 20 minutes of the first half was a battle with all players running at full-speed.
"I told them at halftime they were doing great and playing at 100 percent," Pineda said. "But, Eastmont was playing at 100 percent, too. I told them we needed to do more, this was for the title."
Two minutes into the second half Sunnyside started a play on the left side of the field. Sunnyside's Nick Steckler crossed the ball to Brian Galvan, who pretended to turn and then did a nifty back-heel pass to Jordan Esqueda, who put a hard shot past Gladine for the eventual game winner.
After the goal Pineda said Sunnyside picked up its game and started making crisp passes, which controlled the tempo of the game.
"Eastmont looked unorganized after our goal," Pineda said. "Our defense did awesome."
Sunnyside keeper Joaquin Perez saved eight shots to help Sunnyside post its fifth straight shutout and 11th in 14 games.
Sunnyside had 13 shots on goal. Sunnyside's Galvan came into Saturday's contest leading the league in goals with five.
The Grizzlies will finish the regular season this Tuesday, April 29, when they travel to Davis High School in Yakima for a non-league game.