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Grizzlies rally past fifth-ranked Eastmont

It's a mantra Sunnyside Grizzly soccer Coach David Guevara has repeated all season long: any team can beat another this season in CBBN soccer.

The Grizzlies proved their coach correct, as on Saturday Sunnyside scored twice in a span of five minutes for a 3-2 upset of fifth-ranked Eastmont.

Playing at home, Sunnyside scored in just the sixth minute when a corner kick resulted in Abel Martinez assisting Enrique De La Cruz on a goal to put the Grizzlies up 1-0.

It was all Eastmont from there in the first half, as the Wildcats scored in the 30th minute on a goal by Alex Espinoza and again six minutes later when Joel Villa found the back of the net to put the visitors up 2-1 at the half.

"We stayed positive at halftime, that was the difference," Guevara said of the Grizzlies, who lost 2-0 at Eastmont earlier this season. "Eastmont was ranked fifth in the state, but we knew we could hang with them, we just needed to take our opportunities," the coach said.

Guevara's fellow head coach with the Grizzlies, Sergio Licona Sr., subbed liberally early in the second half due to warm temperatures and reminded the squad to mark Villa, the Wilcats' leading scorer.

"We had to make sure No. 7 was covered," Guevara said of defending Villa. "You can't stop him, you just have to try and contain him."

While the Grizzlies, with six saves by keeper Cristian Vargas, shut the lid on the goal in the second half, Sunnyside found the opportunities it needed on offense.

The Grizzlies scored an equalizer in the 56th minute with a goal by Eddie Garcia and just five minutes later what proved to be the game-winning score was booted home by Armando Armento on a penalty kick.

The deciding goal was set up when Sunnyside's Javier Contreras had a breakaway opportunity. After getting past an Eastmont defender, Conteras was knocked away from the ball by the Wildcat keeper. "He came out feet first and hit Javier before he touched the ball," Guevara said of the pivotal call against Eastmont.

Sunnyside then turned to Armenta for the game winner. "Armando's our go-to guy in those tough situations," Guevara said of going with Armenta for the penalty kick.

There were still nearly 20 minutes to play, though, and both teams had one-on-one cracks at the other's goal. "Eastmont is a tough team, everyone continued to attack," Guevara said. "Both teams had opportunities."

The tightness of the game was reflected in that Sunnyside had 10 shots on goal compared to 11 for Eastmont. "It was a tough, brutal, physical match," Guevara said.

With the win Sunnyside (5-4, 6-4-1) moves into fourth place in the CBBN standings.

The league's top six teams advance to the postseason, and Sunnyside is just two games clear of the sixth place team and one game behind third-place Pasco.

In this year's anything-can-happen version of the CBBN, Guevara and Licona Sr. are reminding the Grizzlies not to rest on their laurels after upsetting the Wildcats.

"We told them not to be complacent," Guevara said. "It was a great win, but we have to look forward. We have to execute. Southridge will be here on Tuesday (tomorrow) and they are a very physical team."

The Grizzlies will host the Suns at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School's field due to construction at the high school.

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