Garrett Magie chases down a loose ball on Saturday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
Garrett Magie chases down a loose ball on Saturday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

As time was winding down in Saturday afternoon's 3A boys' soccer quarterfinal game at Dozier Field, the Park City squad launched an all-out assault on the Cedar City goal.

Trailing 2-0 after a first-half penalty kick and a shot in a goal-side scuffle each found the back of the net for the Redmen, the Miners were in a scramble for the last 15 minutes of the game.

Gunnar Stray-Gundersen brought Park City to within one after scoring from a nearly-impossible angle with 14 minutes remaining.

Though the Miners would accrue several decent scoring opportunities in the ensuing 14 minutes, none were finished off and the Cedar City defense held strong, sending the Redmen to a 2-1 win and on to the semifinals.

Park City coach Jesse Blais praised the Cedar defense, saying they had the Miners scouted perfectly.

"They knew our good players and marked them tight," he said. "They were strong defensively and didn't let Garrett [Magie] beat them on the line. They didn't give Gunnar many opportunities to shoot. They played a strong, very strategic game."

Blais added that the Redmen may have had a little extra motivation to avoid letting their season end on Dozier Field again.

"They've remembered for the last year losing on this field in a shootout in last year's playoffs," he said. "They wanted to win on this field this year."

Blais said Park City's second half was much better than the first, but it wasn't enough to equalize against a stout Cedar defense.

"It wasn't until the second half that we were actually able to get space on them," he said. "We dominated the second half, but they just didn't let us score. It just wasn't our day."

The PCHS defense had trouble figuring out the Cedar offense at the start of the game, leading to a few goal-scoring opportunities for the Redmen.

"They have a different strategy than a lot of the teams we've played," he said. "They put their two best guys out wide and pack in the middle, so we had to make a lot of adjustments during the game.

Wade Quilter slides into a Cedar defender on Saturday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
Wade Quilter slides into a Cedar defender on Saturday afternoon at Dozier Field. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
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After the final whistle blew, Magie, Will Macfarlane, Sully Tesch and the rest of the Park City seniors couldn't bear to leave the field. The pain of yet another close loss weighed heavily on the group.

While compiling a 9-6-1 overall record this season, Park City only once lost by more than one goal. The Miners fell 2-0 to Hurricane during the St. George Tournament in just their third game of the season.

Blais said the fact that Park City was never really out of a game this season says a lot about the talent level of the team. But, he added, he wishes the Miners played the first half of games like they play the second half.

"This is a very talented team that really wants it," he said. "It's just that sometimes they have a hard time staying focused or bringing the urgency at the beginning of the game that they have at the end of games. It's a hard thing to teach that, to have that nervousness and energy right at the beginning of a game. It's a very hard thing to recreate."

With the season now over, Blais said he'll be sad to see this year's senior class move on. He said he appreciates the example of hard work the seniors set for the underclassmen.

"I'll remember their work ethic," he said. "They're always in the gym, they're always at practice, they always want to play as hard as they can and they have a lot of character. They have a lot of fun, too."

Looking ahead at next year, Blais said the underclassmen will have some big shoes to fill.

From left to right, PCHS seniors Will Macfarlane, Giacomo Castellano and Garrett Magie collapse on the field after the final whistle of Saturday afternoon
From left to right, PCHS seniors Will Macfarlane, Giacomo Castellano and Garrett Magie collapse on the field after the final whistle of Saturday afternoon s 2-1 loss to Cedar in the 3A quarterfinals. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

"Next year, it's going to be really tough to replace some of the guys we're losing," he said. "We were a very senior-heavy team. We have four or five exceptional juniors, though, so we'll always have a chance. But that southern region just keeps getting stronger and stronger. [Cedar] was a four seed."

The Miners ended the season with a 6-1-1 record in Region 10 play, finishing second to Juan Diego.