Kolton Atkinson carries the ball up the field for the Park City boys’ lacrosse team. Photo courtesy of Judy Winterhalter
Kolton Atkinson carries the ball up the field for the Park City boys' lacrosse team. Photo courtesy of Judy Winterhalter
The weekend kicked off with a non-tournament, regulation-length game against Centennial, one of Nevada's top teams. Playing for the first time all year outdoors, and against midfielder Justin Anderson, one of the top high-school prospects in the country, the team faced a 6-0 deficit early in the second quarter. But by halftime they cut the deficit to three goals, 9-6. Penalties put the Miners in man-down situations much of the second half, but the team still battled back to achieve a final of 17-12; while a loss, it was a considerable improvement on last year's score of 14-2 against this same team.

Saturday's ambitious schedule of four games began with a win over Henderson Red of Nevada, a good warm up for the next test against Faith Lutheran, another top-ranked team in that state. It started out well, with the Park City offense putting in quick goals and the defense picking off passes, but as the game wore on, Faith Lutheran crept back into the game and finally came away with a 6-6 tie.

The next game, against a relatively unheralded Skyview (Utah) team, ended in a shocking loss when the scrappy northern team put in two goals in the last minute of play. This meant that despite the next win against a physical team from Edmonton, it looked like the team would not be advancing to the playoffs and its weekend was over. However, Skyview elected to give up its playoff berth because they were leaving immediately to return home, so Park City was given another shot at undefeated Centennial in Sunday morning's quarterfinals.


Advertisement

The rematch against Centennial started off in a much different fashion, with Park City jumping to an early lead that it would never relinquish. Sophomore Jackson Burton, who absolutely dominated the faceoffs all weekend, gave the team an edge by delivering initial possession on nearly every point. Senior Carson Dutkanych ensured that defensive takeaways by the opposition were immediately returned to Park City, recovering the ball and feeding passes to the potent offense led by high scorers Chad Merrick and Kolton Atkinson, as well as attackmen Christian Pompoco and Chase Christiansen. Centennial managed to pull up to a 4-4 tie but Atkinson's flashy scoop shot, after a great assist from Dutkanych, gave Park City the lead for halftime.

In the second half, the defense, which benefited hugely from the addition of Noah Pranschke (who was playing in the hockey state finals during the Friday night game) and Chase Flinders, stepped up to ensure that Centennial wouldn't be sneaking back into the game. They, along with the speedy, aggressive trio of Jeff Turner, Griffin Seifert, and freshman Josh Hales held the Nevadans to only two points in the second half, while the offense continued to pump in the goals at the opposite end. Dutkanych's high-velocity outside goal at the end of the game was the icing on the cake of a very satisfying 10-6 win.

The tournament was not over, though, and now the team would be facing in-state rival Brighton in the semifinals. This physical team, recognized by many as the most formidable in Utah, went up early and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the game. Park City played well throughout the game, but was too depleted by the earlier victory to be able to keep pace and fell 7-3 to the eventual tournament champions. The loss only whet the team's appetite for the rematch with Brighton, scheduled for April 8 in Salt Lake City. In the meantime the team will be playing a busy schedule, starting with a game against Corner Canyon on March 4. Many of the team's games will be live-streamed this year; for the video, along with schedules and results, stay tuned to the Boys High School page at www.parkcitylacrosse.org , and follow on Twitter at @PCMinerslax.