SPOKANE - "I know Angel can make the difference here," Sunnyside keeper Cristian Vargas told Coach David Guevara.
Angel Cuevas did indeed make the difference, stopping two penalty kicks in a shootout to help Sunnyside to a 1-0 victory in Saturday's loser-out District playoff contest against University High School.
Vargas recorded seven saves against the University High attack during 90 scoreless minutes of regulation and overtime.
"He stood up to the challenge," Guevara said of Vargas. "He did everything we asked for and more."
With a shootout approaching, Vargas voluntarily made way for Cuevas, a keeper for the Sunnyside JV team.
"Angel's won many games at the JV level with his stops this year," Guevara said. "He is coolheaded and ready to make stops."
Guevara explained the two keepers train together. "They practice together so much they know each other's strengths." That, in turn, led Vargas to step aside for Cuevas in the shootout, where he recorded two saves as Sunnyside outshot University High 5-4.
During the shootout - a one-on-one attempt against the keeper - Sunnyside's Armando Armenta, Ricardo Leal, Robert Zapien, Osmar Alvarez and Abrahan Garcia all found the back of the net.
Guevara noted both teams had chances to win the contest in regulation. He said Sunnyside's best chances came in the final minutes of regulation when Edgar Aguilar had a one-on-one opportunity that couldn't find the net.
"We had some opportunities, some good crosses that just didn't fall in for us," Guevara said. "Their goalie did a good job for them."
Both teams had 10 shots on goal for the match.
Guevara said the long three-hour plus trip to Spokane for the loser-out contest didn't help.
"It was not our greatest game, but we had the tenacity to pull it out," Guevara said. He praised comments at the half by co-coach Sergio Licona Sr., who reminded the Grizzlies they had worked all year to get to this point.
The year will continue for the Grizzlies (10-7-1), who now play in double-elimination Regional competition starting this coming Wednesday.
Sunnyside will play at Eastmont, the CBBN's top seed, this coming Wednesday. The Grizzlies handed the Wildcats their only loss in league play this season.
Win or lose, Sunnyside is still alive and will face Kennewick or Mt. Spokane this coming Saturday.
A win either Wednesday or Saturday will assure a State berth for the Grizzlies.