The Sunnyside Grizzlies' defense has been stifling this season. In the first five games of the 2008 soccer season the Grizzlies hadn't given up a single goal.
That changed last night when Sunnyside hosted the Kamiakin Braves and lost for the first time this year, 4-3.
"This team (Kamiakin) is the most complete we've seen all year," Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda said. "We started relaxed and that caused us to commit some errors."
The Braves drew first blood in the 10th minute of play on a free kick by Kamiakin's Gavin Richter. Sunnyside keeper Joaquin Perez got his hands on the ball but his body was out of position and he couldn't keep the ball from finding the net.
Sunnyside stormed right back with a goal scored by Brian Galvan.
"It was the most beautiful shot of the season," Pineda said.
Sunnyside's Matt Jongsma made a diagonal pass to Galvan, who trapped the ball and made a cut, throwing both the defender and keeper off. He then blasted a Beckham-style power shot that curved into the upper right hand corner of the goal.
The two teams battled for the next 15 minutes until a mistake cost the Grizzlies another goal.
While trying to clear the ball from the 18-yard box in front of Sunnyside's goal, Jongsma was called for a high kick, which gave Kamiakin an indirect kick right in front of the Grizzly goal. A Kamiakin player fed the ball to Richter, who blasted it past Perez for a 2-1 lead.
The Braves added to their lead in the 34th minute of play when Kenny Short beat his defender and placed the ball past Perez for a 3-1 Brave lead.
Right before halftime Sunnyside's Alfredo Gomez was taken down hard by a Kamiakin player inside the Braves' 18-yard box. This set up a penalty kick opportunity for Miguel Lugo, who put the ball in the back of net to cut Kamiakin's lead to 3-2.
Pineda told his team he was concerned with Kamiakin's ability to send players from the backfield up to the forward positions without being noticed.
"We couldn't catch the extra guy on time," he said. "That was our first adjustment and we were a different team in the second half."
Riding the momentum of Lugo's penalty kick, the Grizzlies raced up and down the field and created at least six scoring opportunities for themselves in the final half. Unfortunately they couldn't capitalize on them.
Short scored his second goal of the game for the Braves in the 74th minute of play on a one-on-one opportunity with Perez.
Sunnyside's Nick Steckler made it close in the 78th minute when he was able to get the ball past Kamiakin's keeper and a defender to cut the lead to 4-3 with just under two minutes to play. Kamiakin held off all Sunnyside charges after that.
Sunnyside had 13 shots on goal and the Braves had eight. Perez saved six shots for the Grizzlies and Dillon Braich and Abel Bautista combined for nine saves for Kamiakin.
"This game was good for us," Pineda said. "It humbles us and will make us practice harder."
Sunnyside (3-1, 5-1) will travel to Kennewick this Saturday, March 29, for a 1 p.m. match with Southridge at Lampson Stadium.