Kamiakin forward Curtis Moore ruined the Sunnyside Grizzly boys soccer home debut last night with a pair of goals in a 2-1 win for the Braves.
"Curtis is a great player, with well-rounded skills," said Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda. "He's one of the best players in the league."
Moore staked the 4A Braves to a 2-0 lead at the half of Wednesday night's match with a goal in the 15th minute after 3A Sunnyside had difficulty clearing the ball in front of its net. Moore's second goal came in about the 30th minute, when Kamiakin got him the ball on the right side of the field. As he moved forward, there was a miscommunication between the Sunnyside defender and keeper, as both thought the other was going to cover Moore. Both hesitated and Moore knocked home what proved to be the winning score.
Pineda said the Grizzlies were more aggressive in the second half, pulling up an extra player to the midfield to help the attack.
The strategy paid off as in the 65th minute Julio Ramirez gathered in a long pass and volleyed the ball over his Kamiakin defender and into the opposite post of the net. "There was nothing their keeper could do to stop it," said Pineda.
The last 15 minutes which ensued were all Sunnyside, as the Grizzlies made a frenetic effort to find an equalizer.
"We had numerous crosses right in front of the goal, but couldn't connect," said Pineda. "I really like the attitude the team showed in the second half. In the first half we were kind of passive, kind of waiting, but as the game progressed we were picking it up."
Sunnyside's Jesus Gudino had two of the better chances in the final minutes to tie the match.
With about 10 minutes remaining, Kamiakin's keeper fumbled the ball in front of the goal. Gudino got a foot on the loose ball, but pushed it just inches wide and into a Kamiakin defender.
Gudino had another open shot with about seven minutes left, but it was deflected.
Of course, the late game fireworks would have been for naught if Sunnyside's defense hadn't been able to stop Moore and the Braves in the second half.
Pineda praised the play of Jordan Esqueda in marking, closely defending the hot-footed Moore.
The coach also singled out keeper Ediberto Garcia, a freshman, who made six athletic stops in the net.
On one save in the second half, Garcia fully stretched out his body and dove to get a hand on a Kamiakin shot attempt. "He looked like a tiger out there," Pineda said. "It was a cat-like reaction."
Sunnyside (1-1, 3-1) had 14 shot attempts but only netted one goal.
Pineda said his team will work on improving its odds of finding pay dirt.
"It's something we have to practice," he said. "We've got to do a lot of repetitive shooting drills to increase our percentages on goal."
Though a loss, Pineda said last night's second half rally gives the Grizzlies momentum.
"These guys (the Braves) brought a playoff-type intensity to the match and we responded well," he said. "Five more minutes and we would have tied and perhaps won the match. That's how much confidence we gained in the second half. Losing like that doesn't taste like a loss to me. I'm proud of my team."
Sunnyside plays at Southridge High School this Saturday.