Gunnar Stray-Gundersen races toward the North Sanpete goal as teammate Garrett Magie trails him on Thursday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher
Gunnar Stray-Gundersen races toward the North Sanpete goal as teammate Garrett Magie trails him on Thursday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

The Park City High School boys' soccer team got off to a good start in its quest to return to the 3A state title game this year.

In Thursday afternoon's match against North Sanpete, things got off to a slow start for the Park City offense. Shots were bouncing off the post or flying out of bounds after missing the net by mere inches.

But, eventually, the Miners started capitalizing on their numerous opportunities. Sully Tesch got the scoring started with a nice finish to beat the North Sanpete keeper.

Then it was time for Gunnar Stray-Gundersen to take over. Stray-Gundersen scored with 9:10 remaining in the first half and quickly added a second goal, this time with his left foot, less than two minutes later to give Park City a 3-0 advantage at halftime.

Park City coach Jesse Blais was happy with the creativity and dexterity Stray-Gundersen showed on Thursday.

"Gunnar shot a left-footed shot in the first half that rang in off the side post," he said. "It's nice to see him score with his left foot."

In the second half, some new faces were finding the back of the net. Peter Bermant drew a foul in the North Sanpete box, then stepped up and beat the keeper on the penalty kick with 18:47 left in the game.

Then, with time winding down, Michael Holzrichter knocked a header into the net off a picture-perfect cross.

"There were a couple other nice goals," Blais said. "That header from Michael, who had been out all season, was great. He's starting to come back in and he's a big part of the team.


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Those are good goals to see."

Though the Miners scored five goals in the game, Blais said he'd like to see more of his team's early chances find the back of the net.

"They have to - that's the key," he said. "Moving forward, one, there won't be as many chances, and two, each chance is going to have that much more importance riding along with it."

But Blais is confident that Park City is up to the challenge.

"They know they need to capitalize on those [chances]," he said.

Giacomo Castellano battles for possession with a North Sanpete defender on Thursday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
Giacomo Castellano battles for possession with a North Sanpete defender on Thursday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
"In the bigger games, their intensity is up a little more and their concentration is higher, or at least I hope so."

The Miners should be well-rested for Saturday's game, since the starters didn't have to play big minutes against North Sanpete.

Blais said he wanted to make sure everyone on the team entered Saturday in top form.

"I saw a lot of different people out on the field, moving around to different positions," he said. "Even though it wasn't the hardest game, these guys definitely stayed focused the entire time.

"It's nice to save their legs and it's also nice to have a big squad, because guys can come in at different positions. It was good to have everybody get in and play with different combos on the field. At any point on Saturday, I can use a different combination and have it work."

Because lower-seeded Cedar City took down Stansbury in round one, Park City now gets to host a second playoff game. Cedar City will travel to take on the Miners at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Dozier Field.

Blais said he expects a tough game, but added he's happy to play at home again.

"Cedar City plays in the toughest region in the state," he said. "And they won against some of those teams down there, so they'll be tough."

Stray-Gundersen agreed, adding that the Miners will have to play their best game of the year so far to win.

"It's going to take everyone's heart and passion, everything we've got, to get us through to the semifinals," he said.