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Golden goal sinks Grizzly soccer team

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Sunnyside's Oswaldo Lopez (10) pushes the ball upfield yesterday against Kennewick in the regular season finale for both teams. Lopez later scored a last-second equalizer for the Grizzlies on a bicycle kick.

The Sunnyside Grizzly soccer squad rallied from a two-goal deficit before losing 3-2 on a golden goal in overtime by visiting Kennewick.

The Lions grabbed an early advantage in the regular season finale for both teams. Kennewick scored twice in a 10-minute span in the first half, on a goal in the 24th minute by David Covarrubias and a goal in the 34th minute by Miguel Lopez.

That put the Lions up 2-0 at the half.

"Coach (Sergio) Licona asked them to dig deep and refocus on the game," said David Guevara, who shares coaching responsibilities with Licona.

The halftime message worked as Sunnyside battled and finally found paydirt with two goals in the last five minutes of the match.

Abrahan Garcia scored in the 74th minute for Sunnyside on an assist by Armando Armenta. The Grizzlies then found an equalizer just before the final whistle on a bicycle kick goal by Oswaldo Lopez.

"It was a beautiful goal," said Guevara. "It was professional, it hit just over the keeper's finger tips. Right after the goal the referee blew the whistle."

Sunnyside may have rallied to knot the contest at 2-2, but overtime awaited. In the extra session, the first team to score a goal - called the golden goal - wins.

The Lions were the ones who found gold in the overtime, as Kennewick's Noe Diaz scored just before the first overtime half ended to earn the victory.

Guevara praised Sunnyside keeper Cristian Vargas, who stopped six Kennewick shot attempts in the first half alone.

"He's been doing a great job and he's fighting through a shoulder injury," Guevara said of his keeper. "He put it out there for his team."

Sunnyside had the wind at its back in the second half and found most of its shot attempts over the final 40 minutes, including the last five minutes when the Grizzlies tied things up.

Guevara gave credit to the Lions, who finished second this season in the CBBN. "They're solid all the way around, anyone can score for them."

The loss, the Grizzlies' third in the last four games, dropped Sunnyside to 7-7 in league play and a final regular season record of 8-7-1.

Even so, it didn't change the postseason outlook.

The Grizzlies will host a loser-out District play-in match tomorrow, Thursday, against West Valley. The contest will be at 5 p.m. at the Chief Kamiakin field and admission will be required per WIAA requirements.

The Rams, who upset Pasco in their season finale, can be a dangerous team.

Sunnyside won at West Valley last Saturday 3-1, but Licona and Guevara are reminding their players not to look past the Rams.

"West Valley just runs and runs, they bring a sense of urgency," Guevara said. "Coach Licona reminded them (the Grizzlies) that mentally we can't overlook anybody. We have to play at the highest level we can," said Guevara.

If Sunnyside, the CBBN's fourth seed, wins tomorrow it will set up a re-match with the Lions at Kennewick this coming Saturday.

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