Abel Martinez was plenty able for 20 minutes as the junior scored two goals in sparking the Sunnyside Grizzly soccer team to a 6-1 District playoff win over visiting West Valley.
"Abel has a hamstring injury and he told me he could play for about 20 minutes," Sunnyside Coach David Guevara said. "I told him to take the best shots he could."
Martinez followed the instruction to a T, scoring two goals in a span of two minutes to give Sunnyside a 2-0 lead just 10 minutes into the contest.
Martinez scored in the eighth minute, then found the back of the net again in the 10th minute when he was assisted by Eddie Garcia.
West Valley nearly found its own lightning in a bottle, striking for a goal in the 13th minute on a penalty kick by Jesse Esquivel. The Rams were quickly awarded another penalty kick two minutes later on a handball.
West Valley looked set to tie the match on the one-on-one goal attempt, but Sunnyside keeper Cristian Vargas knocked the shot away, just getting his fingertips on the ball to push it off the cross bar.
"It was such an emotional swing for those (Sunnyside) kids," Guevara said. "If they (the Rams) would have made it, it might have been a different match. But Cristian didn't psych himself out, he just guessed right."
The Rams never threatened again and Guevara praised his defense for slamming the door shut.
"We have a lot of experience in the backfield...we calmed down and played our game."
Up 2-1, Sunnyside then put the match away with two goals just before the half.
In the 36th minute Armando Armenta scored for Sunnyside on an assist by Enrique De La Cruz and four minutes later Jacob Meza collected a rebounded shot in mid-air and found the back of the net to make it a 4-1 match. "Jacob hit it perfectly," said Guevara. "It was like a knuckleball, it dropped at the right time."
In the second half Guevara and co-coach Sergio Licona Sr. anticipated West Valley would move Esquivel to the forward position in an attempt to make up the three-goal difference.
"We were watching and waiting for West Valley to make their change, and when they did we sent Edgar Aguilar in as a defender," Guevara said.
The move kept West Valley out of the goal.
Just to make sure of the final outcome, Sunnyside banged in a pair of insurance goals in the second half. The fifth Grizzly goal of the match came in the 59th minute when Eddie Garcia scored on an assist by Javier Contreras. Five minutes later, Sunnyside's Abrahan Garcia wrapped things up with a goal on an assist by Oswaldo Lopez.
The lopsided 6-1 final score was reflected on the stat sheet, as Sunnyside outshot West Valley 23-to-8.
Sunnyside now advances to a loser-out Regional tourney match tomorrow, Saturday, against University High of Spokane, the GSL's second seed. The contest will be played at Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium at 1 p.m.
The Grizzlies, the CBBN's fourth seed, anticipated playing at Kennewick but had to change venues when sixth seed Kamiakin upset third seed Pasco last night.
"We're the CBBN's new third seed," said Guevara.
The switch means Sunnyside is a higher seed, but has to face an unknown opponent instead of CBBN foe Kennewick.
Guevara said his team will take it in stride.
"We kind of take it like a boxer mentality, we're focusing on our team and forcing the opponent to prepare for us," Guevara says. "We'll make the proper adjustments during the match."