EAST WENATCHEE - Just two minutes away from an apparent loss, the 3A Sunnyside Grizzly soccer team managed to escape with a win in a shootout at 4A East Wenatchee this past Saturday.
Sunnyside's Brian Galvan, scoring his sixth goal in three games, cracked the scoreboard in the 17th minute with a goal assisted by Carlos Alvarez.
The Grizzlies maintained a 1-0 lead through much of the first half until the East Wenatchee Wildcats struck for two goals in a span of 12 minutes off the foot of Jose Sotelo. The first came in the final minute of the first half and the second in the 52nd minute.
Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda said the Wildcats used a tactic to confuse Grizzly defenders by having Sotelo go back and forth between the midfield and forward positions. In the confusion, Sotelo essentially became a third, unmarked forward roaming in Sunnyside territory.
"It took awhile to make some changes," Pineda said of a counter move. The Grizzlies found an answer for Sotelo by putting defensive stopper Jordan Esqueda on him in basically one-on-one coverage. "They didn't have a free forward after that," Pineda said.
Sunnyside may have found success on defense, but still struggled to find a tying goal.
"It seemed like they were going to have the win," Pineda said of the Wildcats.
The Grizzlies' chance to tie came in the 78th minute, just two minutes from the final whistle, when Galvan was taken down just outside of the penalty box, a little more than 18 yards from the Wildcat goal.
That gave Sunnyside a free kick and Sergio Licona made it count with a bit of trickery. On the kick, Licona blasted a ball hard on the ground while a wall of Eastmont defenders jumped up thinking Licona was going to aim the ball high. The ball scooted through into the Wildcat goal for a 2-2 tie.
After a scoreless overtime session, Sunnyside finally prevailed on the seventh try of a shootout, outkicking Eastmont with six successful tries to five for the Wildcats.
The big play for Sunnyside in the shootout wasn't the shooters, though; it came from keeper Joaquin Perez on Eastmont's seventh and final try.
"He made a sensational save to give us the win," said Pineda. "He stretched himself completely off the ground and blocked a hard shot in the air. It was a cat-like reaction, very impressive."
Perez had seven saves for the match and the close nature of the contest is also evident in that both teams had 10 shot attempts.
Sunnyside improves to 5-6 in league play and 7-6 overall with the win, their fourth straight after six losses in a row.
"The kids are getting much more excited each game," said Pineda. "You can see it in their faces. We're back."
Sunnyside will look to make it five in a row and even their league record with a contest tomorrow, Tuesday, at Walla Walla.