The Park City and Wasatch High School boys' soccer teams are no longer Region 10 rivals now that the Wasps have moved up to the 4A classification, but that doesn't mean tensions aren't high when the two squads square off.
Dozier Field played host to the rivals' first game since Wasatch left a stunned Park City team looking for answers after walking off the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium while hoisting the 3A title trophy last season.
But, due to spring break at PCHS, Tuesday afternoon's match saw some new faces taking the field for the Miners. Leading scorers Garrett Magie and Gunnar Stray-Gundersen were missing, as was assist-machine Rob Morelli, among others.
That left Park City's remaining core players like Sully Tesch, Mitch Martino, Will Macfarlane and Noah Pack scrambling to get several freshmen and sophomore players up to speed.
Bad news came early for the Miners, however, when Pack went up for a header and slammed his knee into the knee of a Wasatch player. Pack took the worst of the collision and was knocked out for the remainder of the game, watching from the bench with a bag of ice wrapped around his knee.
Though the young Miner squad fought valiantly and created a decent number of goal-scoring opportunities, they were unable to find the back of the net in what would ultimately turn into a 1-0 loss.
The Wasps got on the board with 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
After the game, a dejected Park City team was left searching for answers.
"They were full strength," Park City coach Jesse Blais said. "They just came off of spring break, so this was their first game after a week off. But this was a tough game. We were down a lot of guys and some of the younger guys stepped up.
For the first time, Park City and Wasatch were playing for the Park City-Wasatch Cup, sponsored by Wasatch Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, a trophy that will be retained by the winner of what will be a yearly non-region match for both schools.
Blais said he hopes the experience the younger guys gained in the heated rivalry game this year will pay off in the future.
"They know it's a preseason game," he said. "But this game is on the schedule for a reason to have a cup and be able to play for it every year. The young guys got to see how much this means to the older guys. I think it will be a good tradition."
For Friday's Region 10 game against Union (after this issue went to press), Blais was expecting a few more players, including Pack, to return to action.
"[Noah]'s OK," Blais said. "He's just got a bruised knee, so he should be fine. We'll have some other people back for that game and we'll be able to play strong against Union."
This week, Park City (7-4 overall, 5-0 in Region 10), will be on the road at Morgan on Wednesday afternoon and at Juan Diego on Friday afternoon.