The Sunnyside boys soccer team is aware of its history at the Class 3A state soccer tournament.
They know their predecessors won just two games in seven appearances since 1993.
But they also know that history can’t determine their path through the 2014 Class 3A state soccer tournament. And with a 17-2 record, a Columbia Basin Big Nine league title and a District 5/8 regional championship, they might make Grizzlies backers forget all about the past.
“Everything is based on history, but we told the players you write your own history,” Sunnyside co-coach David Guevara said. “It’s about us going 1-0 on the day. They know if we don’t win this one, we’re done. We told them they hold their own destiny.”
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The Grizzlies have outscored opponents 58-20 this season against some pretty tough competition that includes several teams from the Mid-Columbia Conference. Sunnyside topped Pasco, the MCC No.1 Class 4A team, 3-0 in a midseason game, then took down Kamiakin 3-0 in a sub-regional matchup and beat Kennewick, last year’s MCC champion, 3-2 in a shootout for the regional championship Saturday.
“For us to go 3-0 against Tri-City schools speaks volumes about how much work the kids put in and their willingness to become team players,” Guevara said. “We knew coming into this season we’d be competitive. If we believed in our system and everybody does their role, we would be successful. We knew when it came time for postseason, our league would prepare us well enough.”
The Grizzlies will face a tough test at home against Auburn-Mountainview (8-2-1) in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament at 6 p.m. today.
“They have played hand-in-hand with some of the top schools in the state. They shut people down, and if they get a goal on the board, it’s hard to crack them,” Guevara said.
Sunnyside’s best chance will come from their trio of high-scoring attackers: Christian Chavez, Alexander Marin and Noe Meza, who have combined for over 30 goals this season.
But Guevara also points to his team’s ability to share the ball as one of its biggest strengths.
“We call it Sunnyside soccer. We touch the ball 6-to-8 times before an opponent touches the ball,” he said.”That’s when you’re at your strongest.”
Hanford (15-4) at Kennewick (13-6), Lampson Stadium, 6 p.m.: The Falcons and Lions may have begun a tradition of facing each other in the Class 3A state playoffs. They battled in the quarterfinals last year, and they’ll do it again in 2014, this time in the first round.
But it’s still win or go home, which will create an intense atmosphere on the Lampson turf, where Kennewick can use its speed effectively and take advantage of some familiar bounces.
The Lions won two of the three matches between the two teams this year, including a 3-2 playoff win in the regional semifinal.
“They’re a well-coached, well-organized team that can get at you if you’re not careful,” said Pardini, who watched his team eliminate Kennewick last year to advance to the Final Four. “Every time we’ve played them they’ve had a chip on their shoulder.”