Click photo to enlarge
Park City goalkeeper Casey Sederman eyes a Wasatch player during the state title match on Saturday. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record

The situation was hopeless. Wasatch had a throw-in deep in Park City territory with 15 seconds left in Saturday's 3A state championship soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Even if the Miners could win the ball back from the Wasps, who held a 1-0 lead, they'd still have to take it the length of the field and score. But they weren't about to quit trying.

After the throw, Park City tried desperately to get the ball back, but the Wasps were content to keep it in the corner, letting the seconds tick away.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven ... "

As the announcer's baritone boomed through the stadium's speakers, counting down the game's final seconds, the roar from the Wasatch crowd steadily increased, while the Park City contingent started coming to terms with the impending result.

"Six, five, four ... "

The players on the Wasatch sideline started inching closer and closer to the field, waiting for the moment when they could swarm their teammates in celebration. The Park City bench players buried their faces in their hands.

"Three, two, one, TIME!"

The game was over. The Miners collapsed on the field, partly from exhaustion, but mostly from the realization that, in the last game, they had come up short.

Three times over the course of the season, the Miners had given Wasatch everything they could muster. Three times, they had pushed the undefeated Wasps to the brink. But, three times, when the game was over, the Miners found themselves down by one goal to their biggest rivals.

As Park City's Will McFarlane sat on the field, jersey pulled over his face, the Wasatch bench players flowed around him as they flocked to the celebration melee on the far side of the field.

His teammate, Garrett Bullough, injured five minutes into the game, needed crutches to help him make his way back onto the field to be with his teammates.

Park City coach Jesse Blais strode out to midfield, jaw clenched but head held high, to gather his team and pick them up emotionally.

Yes, losing to their biggest rivals on the biggest stage was tough, he said. But the Miners had so much to be proud of. Two weeks ago, after consecutive shutout losses at the hands of Judge Memorial and Juan Diego, no one had expected the Miners to make it this far.

"I'm so proud of them already," Blais said. "I don't think I've ever had a better group of individuals on a team. They all show so much pride and so much heart in everything they do."

Though the Wasps took the title game 1-0, nothing came easy for the team that had cruised to a 20-0 record on the season.

"(Wasatch is) a great team and I thought the third time we'd have them," Blais said. "But they played so hard and they have so much experience on that team."

Goalkeeper Casey Sederman must have had a feeling of déjà vu early in the first half. Less than five minutes into the game, Wasatch forward Ben Powell was fouled in the goal box and was awarded a free kick, which Domey Espinoza took.

But when Espinoza launched a shot to the left corner of the goal, Sederman was ready, diving and punching the ball away to preserve a 0-0 tie.

Then, not even 10 minutes later, Powell was again fouled in the box. This time, Cesar Vargas stepped up to take the penalty shot. He was successful, scoring the game's only goal.

Blais said the Wasps created matchup problems for the Park City defense all day.

"They played so hard, and Ben is so tough in the box for us to defend," he said. "Casey is an amazing player, but he can't do it all himself."

He added that the outcome wasn't what he would have liked, but that's just how soccer goes sometimes.

"It's kind of unfortunate that the one goal that had to decide the state championship was a penalty kick," he said. "But sometimes there has to be a loser."

And, while it was hard to accept at the time, Blais said there's no reason for the Miners to hang their heads over their second-place finish.

"I just told them they have so much character and so much personality," he said. "They deserve every single bit of praise they get."

Park City finished the season with a 12-6-1 record. The Miners were 6-4 in Region 10 play.