PASCO - The Sunnyside High School soccer team went into last night's CBBN 3A match against league leading Pasco having lost seven of its last nine games.
So it was epic that the Grizzlies came away with a hard fought 1-0 victory last night against the Bulldogs.
"We were David and they were Goliath," Sunnyside Coach Juan Pineda said. "It was a very big win, very significant."
Both teams had chances to score in regulation, but for 90 minutes neither team could capitalize on its chances. In the first half Sunnyside had three of its four shots on goal blocked by the Pasco keeper.
Christian De La Cruz had the best opportunity in the first half when he found himself against the Pasco keeper all alone. De La Cruz headed the ball towards the goal but the keeper was able to block it.
In the second half of play Sunnyside's Omar Vergara was able to rip a solid shot towards Pasco's goal but the keeper again blocked the ball. A Sunnyside player got the rebound and shot again, this time the ball was deflected by a Pasco defender. Sunnyside again got the rebound, but the next shot was finally scooped up and controlled by the Pasco keeper.
Pasco had its opportunities, as well. The Bulldogs fired off eight shots against Sunnyside keeper Eddie Garcia and he saved five of them.
Pineda said Pasco was playing a very tactical match, but his players were able to mark the Bulldogs' forwards and midfielders, following them wherever they went and not giving them any space to maneuver.
After regulation time ended the teams played two five-minute quarters, which again ended up in a scoreless tie. This forced a shootout situation with each team taking five kicks.
Sunnyside went first and Hector Dominguez scored to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead.
Pasco took its shot, but missed, as did Sunnyside on its second opportunity. Pasco's second shot found its mark and the Bulldogs tied the shootout at 1-1.
Alfredo Gomez scored on Sunnyside's third shot, as did the Pasco player on the Bulldogs' third attempt. Vergara scored on the Grizzlies' fourth attempt, and Pasco missed its fourth attempt to make the score 3-2.
During the fifth chance for Sunnyside, Humberto Bermudez scored to lock up the shootout by a score of 4-2. Pasco never took its fifth opportunity since a score wouldn't have mattered.
"This gives us the confidence we need to finish strong and prepare for the playoffs," Pineda said.
Pineda pointed out that his team has played hard and neck and neck with Pasco (1st) and Southridge (2nd), despite losing twice to the Suns and once to the Bulldogs.
"It's a sign we have the caliber to play against anyone in the playoffs," Pineda added. "We've had some learning experiences and some inconsistency with some players, but this game puts us back together.
"Pasco has a good quality team," Pineda said. "They're like a brotherhood. They are very intense and competitive, but at the same time, very respectful."
He called the display of soccer both teams put on, "clean and beautiful soccer."
Pineda praised his team but pointed out the play of Bermudez and Josue Pinedo. Bermudez, Pineda said, scored the winning goal in the shootout, even though he was under immense pressure.
Both players play defense and Pineda praised their effort for shutting down Pasco's forwards. He also gave praise to Dominguez.
"He did a fabulous job in the center midfield position," Pineda added.
Sunnyside (5-7, 6-7-1) is in fifth place in the 3A CBBN. The Grizzlies will host West Valley on Saturday, April 30, at 1 p.m. The Rams are currently one game back of Sunnyside and are tied for sixth with Kamiakin.