2023-24 Boys Soccer

No. 1 Sunnyside advances to 6A quarterfinals after beating No. 16 Boulder Creek 8-0

Fans might be amazed by the eight goals No. 1 Sunnyside scored on Tuesday night against No. 16 Anthem Boulder Creek, especially considering Johan Jimenez had four of them and Angel Bracamontes-Pulido three.

Add to that Bracamontes-Pulido and Jimenez, both juniors, each scoring a goal in the first two minutes of the match at Sunnyside to set the tone in the 8-0 win in the first-round matchup of the 6A state tournament.

But Sunnyside coach Casey O’Brien, the Blue Devils’ stern yet engaging leader, gravitates toward commenting about his defenders as the difference.

“I’ve said it all year, I know we score a lot of goals but our defense is amazing,” O’Brien said. “They’re incredible. I feel like today they (Boulder Creek) really didn’t have opportunities to even have a chance to score. Our defense was so solid.

“Our defense works really hard. We do a lot of offense and defense in practice and our defense usually dominates our offense. They’re just a really solid unit.”

Sunnyside (23-0-1) advances to Saturday’s quarterfinal round, hosting No. 8 Mesa (15-2-1) at 2 p.m. The Jackrabbits defeated visiting No. 9 Chandler Hamilton 4-0 on Tuesday.

O’Brien mentioned defenders Sebastian Barrios and Eythan Mancilla are the captains “who hold everyone accountable in the back.” He also commented on Javier Gonzalez being “amazing” and Bryan Hernandez picking up left back well in recent games.

“We’ve shifted a lot of pieces around and they’re still getting the job done,” O’Brien added.

Goaltender Miguel Lugo, who had an impressive save off a free-kick attempt by Boulder Creek (10-7), recorded Sunnyside’s 11th shutout of the season.

The Blue Devils have allowed only 13 goals in their 24 matches this season.

Bracamontes-Pulido scored on a header off a 42-yard kick from Barrios one minute into the match and Jimenez followed a minute later with a tight-angle shot from the left side into the goal to give Sunnyside a quick 2-0 lead.

An own goal kicked into the net by a Boulder Creek player increased the lead to 3-0 at the 15-minute mark.

Jimenez’s second goal came at the 28-minute mark to put Sunnyside ahead 4-0.

O’Brien was critical of Sunnyside’s attack becoming somewhat stagnant after its two very early goals.

“At the beginning of the game, I wasn’t happy with the way we were connecting,” he said. “They’re probably just being nervous. There’s a lot of pressure on us and the kids probably came out nervous.

“We got up 2-0 in the first two minutes but it took us a while to settle in. Obviously, when they settle in the quality’s there. We have to figure out how to connect earlier in the next game (against Mesa). It will be a challenge.”

Jimenez and Bracamontes-Pulido each reached a hat trick before halftime, building the lead to 7-0 at the break.

Jimenez scored the last goal at the 48-minute mark, kicking the ball into the net off a deflection by the Boulder Creek goalie.

“Mentally, we all prepared that we’re going to give our all,” Jimenez said. “We’re all going to play as a team, as a family. We worked so hard to get to this point, so let’s not let it go to waste.”

The game ended by mercy rule at the 60-minute mark because Sunnyside led by at least eight goals.

Bracamontes-Pulido now has 36 goals while Jimenez increased his total to 28.

Sunnyside averages an impressive 5.9 goals a game.

The favorable numbers on offense and defense are a result of the intensity O’Brien brings every day from workouts during school to practice and then to games.

An uncommon sight (for most other programs): the head coach practicing full bore with his team as if he was a player.

“He’s honestly the biggest part of our team,” Jimenez said of his coach. “He sets the motivation for the team. We all play his style but we all incorporate our own values within the team.

“That’s just something that you can’t get with any coach. He’s a super, special coach.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top