SUNNYSIDE The Grizzlies boys soccer team improved its record to 3-1, 3-1 with a 2-1 victory over Wenatchee last Friday.
The Panthers, admitted Coach Dave Guevara, are a formidable foe, having secured the 4A state title two years ago.
But Friday’s match was about which team was hungriest for the “W.”
For much of the match, the Grizzlies played a strong offensive game, whittling away at the obviously confident Panthers defense.
“We played pretty fantastic,” Guevara said.
He said Wenatchee had a lot of faith in keeper Tayson Shephard, who came out of the box much more than is typical.
Sunnyside didn’t let that intimidate them and kept attacking the goal.
There were three missed shots between the 10th and 15th minute.
The Wenatchee defense was kept busy as the Grizzlies kept at it. Shots were flying just past the crossbars.
Control of the match shifted in the 22nd minute and the host team found itself on defense with just about 25 yards standing between the keeper and the offensive attack by the Panthers.
Enrique Palma was ready for the shots, though. He denied Wenatchee before Sunnyside took the ball the other direction.
The Grizzlies were attacking the goal whenever an opportunity presented itself.
“Because of how the grass is, the ball bounces… sometimes, the way the field is, they have to take an opportunity,” Guevara said.
That tactic paid off for Andres Sagal of the Grizzlies, who scored the first of his two goals just before the halftime whistle was blown to give the home team a 1-0 advantage going into the final 40 minutes.
“There was a time I didn’t feel I could beat him (Shephard)…I underestimated myself,” Sagal said.
It was 10 minutes into the second half that Wenatchee slipped the ball past Palma to equalize the match, 1-1.
Sunnyside was undaunted, continuing to play the match on its own terms in spite of how aggressive the Wenatchee players grew.
The second half involved a few more free kicks on both sides of the ball, but a nicely spotted scoring opportunity for Sagal in the 65th minute resulted in the final 2-1 outcome of the match.
Shephard tried to block a shot, the ball bounced off him back into the field of play and Segal capitalized.
“It came to me at the right time,” he said. “I just went towards it.”
The Grizzlies successfully defended their lead as the Panthers found a little more motivation in the final minutes, and the teams battled with Sunnyside coming out the victor.
“It felt amazing,” Sagal said.
Of scoring the two goals, he said, “Without the team, I’m nothing.”