BOYS SOCCER: Sunnyside wins The Grove Invite

January 3, 2016 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Sunnyside hoists the Championship Trophy
(Andy Morales/

"This is the first trophy I have ever had," said Sunnyside senior Brian Chumacera. "The first team and individual trophy," he added.

Chumacera was named the Most Valuable Player of The Grove Invitational Saturday after Sunnyside (14-1) blew through the field to win the championship. The Blue Devils outscored their opponents 16-1 along the way including a 4-0 dismantling of Catalina Foothills on Wednesday, a 2-0 win over Rincon/University in the semifinal round and a 2-0 domination of Nogales in the final.

Chumacera and Kevin Vazquez combined for a score in the 45th minute and Jesus Peña added another goal in the 48th but the match was completely dominated by the Blue Devils with limited action  in front of their own goal. 

Second-year coach Philip English has overseen a quick rebuilding project at Sunnyside. It's hard to describe it as "rebuilding" since the program has not been relevant in a  generation but when you are dealing with young men who are used to losing then there is no truer sense of rebuilding.

"I've been here since I was a freshman," Chumacera explained. "I feel the coaches we have now are here for us. We practice on time and they make sure we are all eligible."

And that may be the key. According to English, making sure his players attend class, study and make their grades is part of the turnaround. He gives all credit to his assistant coach Casey O'Brien as do some of the players.

Several players attempted to hand O'Brien the team trophy after the match and Chumacera said he was responsible for making sure the team has stayed together this year especially after the team lost to Tucson in final of the Brandon Bean tournament earlier in the year.

Sunnyside is now 4-0 in Division II and the Blue Devils will have one more "freedom" match at Salpointe on Tuesday before the team finishes the regular season with seven sectional games. A section title will give the Blue Devils an automatic bid to the state playoffs.

The first MaxPreps/AIA power rankings will be released on Thursday and the Blue Devils should find themselves somewhere near the top along with Tucson. The trick, however, is to be on top at the end of February.