RICHLAND - Hampered by injury during the first weeks of the season, Sunnyside's Brian Galvan was back in full force this past Saturday, scoring four goals in the Grizzlies' 6-1 win at Hanford High School.
Most of the fireworks didn't happen until the second half, as the Grizzlies led just 1-0 at the break on a Galvan goal in the 15th minute, assisted by Jesus Solis.
"We battled for like 20 minutes, then I noticed we didn't feel much of a (Hanford scoring) threat," Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda said. "We just made the move to bring more guys up."
The decision to get more aggressive was made, but it wasn't until halftime that the Grizzlies had time to talk and outline the plan.
"Once we got everybody on the same page on the new formation, we immediately just started to exploit spaces," Pineda said. "We just increased the number of forwards in the second half."
The move paid off right away as just six minutes into the second half Sunnyside's Julio Ramirez scored what proved to be the game-winning goal on an assist by Solis.
Hanford closed within 2-1 in the 53rd meeting, before Galvan slammed the door shut with a pair of goals just eight minutes apart. Galvan scored in the 58th minute on a booming free kick, then again in the 66th minute on an assist by Jesus Gomez.
Up 4-1 with less than 20 minutes to play, Sunnyside put an exclamation mark on the victory when Gomez scored a goal in the 68th minute, assisted by Luis Garcia.
The final salvo came in the 72nd minute on a goal by Galvan, with an assist from Julio Ramirez.
Sunnyside had 12 shots on goal for the match, knocking home an impressive 50 percent of their chances.
On defense, Sunnyside keeper Ediberto Garcia recorded five saves. The Hanford goal was the first score Sunnyside (1-0, 3-0) had surrendered this season.
"We played very disciplined soccer in the back, we did better in following the play and delivering a quick pass instead of longer runs," Pineda said of his team's transition from a stone-wall defense to a blistering offensive attack. "We had good connections from defense to midfield, and the midfielders found the forwards very effectively."
Saturday's win was Sunnyside's best effort on the young season, the coach said. "On a scale from one to 10 we were at level 8," Pineda said. "If we can be consistent we'll grow into a playoff caliber team."
Despite the big win and perfect start to the season, Pineda said he's not letting his players rest on their laurels.
"It's a good win, but we have to stay humble and keep working hard. It's how you end the season that counts," he said. "It's early, we have a lot to prove, but I like the mental toughness and the work ethic they (his players) bring."
Sunnyside's home opener is this Wednesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. against league foe Kamiakin.