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Grizzlies power past Rams in league opener

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Sunnyside's Danny Alvarez (L) challenges a West Valley player for the ball during Saturday's contest.

Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda put out a challenge to Grizzly soccer player Brian Galvan last week. Galvan had been playing well in the first two games of the season but Pineda wanted more offense from his mid-fielder.

Galvan worked hard during the week and was rewarded by being named one of three captains for last Saturday's league opener against the West Valley Rams.

Galvan responded well to the new title and the challenge from his coach by scoring two goals and then sacrificing himself twice to draw penalty kicks as the Grizzlies manhandled the Rams 5-0 in a Columbia Basin League soccer match.

"Our offense woke up," Pineda said. "I just had to remind them if we didn't pick it up we could start to develop bad habits, like playing to the other team's level.

Pineda knew West Valley's coach is a former professional standout forward so he expected the Rams' forwards to be quick and strong. Because of this Sunnyside started the game conservatively in the backfield. The strategy paid off as the Grizzlies were able to shut down the West Valley offense.

This smothering defense forced the Rams to change their game plan and they went from trying to play the long ball to building their runs by finding spaces and holes.

When the Rams changed their game plan Pineda changed up his as well. Sunnyside changed back to its normal 4-4-2 formation.

"It's a style we dominate at," Pineda added.

The Grizzlies had many opportunities in the first half of play. Several times Sunnyside would push the ball close to West Valley's net only to have a bad pass or a wide shot stop the goal attempt.

In the 12th minute of play Galvan was taken down inside the 18-yard box, setting up a penalty kick for Sunnyside. Miguel Lugo gave the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead when he knocked the ball past the keeper.

Jesus Solis then made it 2-0 in the 20th minute of play.

Pineda said Armando Ortiz was running the ball down the field when two West Valley defenders committed themselves to him. Seeing this, Ortiz passed the ball to Emanuel Acevedo, who then did a very unselfish thing. Acevedo drove the ball in front of West Valley's keeper and then faked him. That left the goal wide open. Instead of taking the shot, Acevedo passed the ball to Solis, who pushed the ball in for a two-goal lead.

At halftime Pineda told his team he wasn't content.

"We were missing on some opportunities," he said. "I told them we need to punish them (West Valley) while we had the chance."

Sunnyside spent the first half running through the West Valley lines with crisp, fast passes. The Grizzly players were moving as one and anticipating the ball movement but had only connected twice on eight attempts.

Things changed in the second half.

Galvan scored his first goal of the game in the 60th minute. A fast break on the right side of play enabled Solis to shoot the ball, which was blocked by a West Valley defender. Galvan scooped up the rebound and pushed it back past the keeper for a 3-0 lead.

Galvan was then taken down again inside the 18-yard box. This set up a penalty kick for Luis Perez, who easily converted to make it 4-0.

Galvan scored his second goal on the day in the 76th minute of play. He took a long pass from teammate Matt Jongsma and made a quick shot past the keeper.

Sunnyside keeper Joaquin Perez kept his season unblemished by posting his third shutout in a row. He had four saves in Saturday's contest. Including Sunnyside's jamboree games, Perez hasn't allowed a goal in 160 minutes this season.

"He's been playing awesome," Pineda said of his keeper.

Sunnyside (1-0, 3-0) will travel to Kennewick this Tuesday, March 18, for a 7 p.m. game against the Kennewick Lions at Lampson Stadium.

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