MOXEE - Focusing as much or more on team chemistry than the final score, the 3A Sunnyside Grizzly soccer team played its first regulation match of the season last Saturday. The Grizzlies sustained a 1-0 non-league loss at 2A East Valley.
"Right now we have a lot of players who haven't played together a lot," Sunnyside Coach Dave Guevara said. "We're trying to find out who works well together."
For their part, the host Red Devils came out the aggressor and scored the match's lone goal from way out in the just third minute of play.
"There was an onslaught of an attack in the first five minutes," Guevara said, noting the result was a Christian Montezuma goal from 25 yards out. "Those kinds of shots usually don't go in, but give him credit. It was a good shot," Guevara said.
Sunnyside quickly overcame its opening match jitters, though, and dominated the contest the rest of the way. For the game, Sunnyside had 10 shots on goal compared to just three for East Valley, including two that actually made it past the Red Devil keeper only to be stopped by another defender.
"We dominated the game stat-wise, but it's not about stats, it's about the final score," Guevara said.
Grizzly keeper Max Ramos recorded two saves on the day.
The day before, Friday, Sunnyside played in a jamboree at Richland. There was no scoring in the two 10-minute mini-matches against Richland and Pasco. A highlight for the day was Sunnyside keeper Jorge Villegas' "magnificent stop" of a Richland shot attempt.
Guevara said several players, including some JV athletes, saw considerable action at last Friday and Saturday's contests.
The coach said freshman forward/midfielder Noe Meza was a standout last weekend. "He played like a seasoned veteran. He wants the ball, he wants to be the aggressor," Guevara said. "He just blew us away. It will be hard to keep him off the field this season. We're excited for his future."
Another untested player in the Grizzly soccer program, sophomore midfielder Nayid Dominguez, also looked strong. "He's no bigger than 5-5, but he plays like he's 6-5," Guevara said. "He's another guy that will be hard to keep on the bench."
The coach said returning all-league players Enrique Delacruz and Bradley Lopez both looked good last weekend, as did returning starter Jacob Meza.
Sunnyside returns to action tonight, Monday, at Lower Valley rival Grandview. "It's going to be another tough challenge,' Guevara said. "(Coach) Anne Holden always has those kids ready to play."