A common theme in several of the Park City High School girls' lacrosse games this season has been slow starts.
In several games, the Miners looked sluggish in the early going, playing down to the level of their opponents and letting them hang around.
Friday evening's playoff quarterfinal match against Bingham at Dozier Field was no different. After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, Park City allowed Bingham to close the gap to 4-3 at the halftime break.
But another theme for the Miners this season has been dominant second halves where they play to their true potential and end up blowing out opponents.
That theme held true on Friday evening as well. In the second half, Park City scored eight unanswered goals, extending its lead to 12-3 before cruising to an easy 14-6 victory.
Park City coach Amy Hafets-Cronin said there's no excuse for how the Miners played in the first half of the game.
"It was kind of a wake-up call," she said. "We came out way too flat and asleep. There was just no enthusiasm we were just watching one girl do all the work."
She added that a long, difficult week at school might have been partially to blame for the slow start.
"You could see it in their faces it's been an exhausting week with a lot of testing going on school-wise," she said. "They've been up late studying. We spoke about that before the game, but I think they just needed a little bit of a wake-up call to get their motors going."
After all, there can't be any letdowns at this point in the season.
"This is it playoffs," Hafets-Cronin said. "It's one-and-done. If we don't win, we don't advance. That's kind of what I said to them at halftime. All the stuff we've been going over and practicing this is the moment we have to execute it. Playoffs this is what we practice for."
As disappointing as the first half was, that's how great the second half was, Hafets-Cronin said.
"They were able to refocus and play with some intensity and some heart," she said. "That's what it's going to take.
Though the team as a whole got off to a slow start, Hafets-Cronin highlighted the play of Hannah Hyatt and McKenna Tychsen as a key to keeping the Miners competitive.
Hyatt scored the game's first goal and Tychsen scored Park City's other three first-half goals.
"Hannah had an outstanding first half," Hafets-Cronin said. "I saw a lot of fight from her, even defensively. She created a lot of turnovers and the rest of us weren't capitalizing on those.
"McKenna had an outstanding game, period. She was critical on the draw in the second half. She dominated almost every single one of them."
Tychsen and Hyatt both finished the game with five goals to lead the team. On the defensive side, Hafets-Cronin pointed to the play of Miriea Calaf, Park City's goalkeeper.
"She played phenomenally," she said. "It was probably her best game of the season in terms of having confidence and stopping things. She got peppered with shots in the first half when our defense was on its heels. She stepped up and stopped quite a few."
Now Park City has a quick turnaround before the semifinals. The Miners were scheduled to play Juan Diego at Olympus High School on Tuesday evening (after this issue went to press). Hafets-Cronin said Park City would spend Monday's practice trying to shore up a couple key areas of its game.
"We'll definitely focus on our transition," she said. "We've corrected some things on our offensive transition moving the ball into our attacking end. On Monday, we're really going to focus on our defensive transition and really focus on making sure we're slowing the ball so the other team can't get it into their attacking end."
Ultimately, though, Hafets-Cronin said the Miners can't afford another sluggish start at this point in the playoffs.
"It comes down to who has the most passion on the field and who plays with the most intensity," she said. "We need to outwork and outhustle the other team."
If Park City advances past the semifinals, the state championship game will be held on Saturday, May 17, at Dozier Field.