KENNEWICK - After dropping the past two CBBN 3A league matches against Southridge and Pasco, the Sunnyside High School soccer team got back into the win column this past Saturday with a 3-1 win against the Kamiakin Braves.
"We bounced back," said SHS Coach Juan Pineda. "We had been playing decent, but not our best. It always helps to score first. This allows us to move our numbers up and attack more."
The Grizzlies did score first in the 15th minute of play. Sunnyside's Jesus Gudino received a pass from Fernando Palma, who was recently moved up from JV. Gudino took Palma's pass down the right side of the field and kicked a low, hard shot that made it past the Kamiakin keeper.
Pineda said the goal caused a spark among the Sunnyside offensive players.
"They were more confident and were connecting with the ball better, taking more risks," Pineda said of his team.
He took advantage of the Grizzlies scoring first and moved his numbers up. The Sunnyside attack was balanced on all three fronts; the left, the right and the middle.
In the 24th minute the Grizzlies were rewarded for their hard work with a Sergio Licona goal. Pineda said he collected the ball after a Kamiakin defender tried to clear the ball away from the Braves' goal. From about 20 yards out and in the middle of the field, Licona hit a low, hard shot just like Gudino's that made it past the Kamiakin keeper.
With the score 2-0 the Braves got one back in the 32nd minute of play. In a dead ball situation the Braves moved the ball from the left side of the field, crossed it over and Clay Burnes was able to head the ball past Sunnyside keeper Eddie Garcia.
At halftime Pineda told his team they couldn't get overconfident just because they were up one goal.
"This motivated the kids to score again," he said.
Three minutes into the second half Sunnyside got its third goal of the match when Oswaldo Lopez scored. Pineda said Lopez received a long pass from Omar Vergara. Lopez anticipated the Brave marking him and got to the ball first, heading it past the goalkeeper.
Garcia recorded four saves for the Grizzlies. Kamiakin's keeper, Chad Harper, stopped six shots. Sunnyside fired 11 shots on Kamiakin's goal. The Braves reciprocated with seven shots on goal.
"It's nice to get the win," Pineda added. "Southridge and Pasco are together with us as the top three teams in the league. We had good matches against them but we weren't as sharp up front.
"We needed to pick up our pace and work harder by making longer runs and transitioning better," he said. "We've been practicing that and we will be stronger in the second half of our schedule."
Sunnyside (3-2, 4-2-1) will travel to Yakima to play West Valley on Tuesday, April 5, at 4 p.m.