The Park City High School girls' soccer team looked completely different from last year's squad on Tuesday afternoon at the North 40 fields. That's to be expected, though, when you lose 13 seniors to graduation.
Taking on Bountiful, the Miners had some good moments and some bad ones in a 4-2 season-opening loss. The important thing, according to Park City coach Chip Cook, is that the team uses moments like the loss to the 4A Braves to improve before the Region 10 season starts.
"We're still learning names," Cook joked after the game. "We just have to keep building and growing and teaching and learning and getting more comfortable on the field together."
However, things got off to a pretty decent start for the Miners on Tuesday afternoon. After conceding an early goal, Park City scored the next two and held a 2-1 lead until just before halftime.
Sophomore Evie Edwards scored the first goal off a picture-perfect free kick from sophomore Bailey Hoglin. Minutes later, senior A.J. Casey delivered a beautiful through-ball to sophomore Cali Keizer, who found the back of the net.
Cook said she was happy with the way the Miners converted on limited first-half opportunities.
"The first half, I don't think the amount of shots we got was indicative of how we played," she said. "We only got three shots and scored on two, which is opportune. Two sophomores scored for us, which bodes well for our team."
She added that she likes what she's seeing from the offensive unit as a whole so far this year.
"If we can get people in the right positions, those opportune moments will be converted more often than not," she said. "We have a lot of kids with a lot of talent offensively."
In the second half, Bountiful scored two quick goals to take a 4-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish. But, overall, Cook said she thought the Miners played well in the final 40 minutes.
"In the second half, I felt like we were dominating possession," she said. "They just got a couple little breakaways through that we didn't handle very well.
Working with a young back line, Cook knows there will be some growing pains. But, she added, there were some positives on defense.
"We had a freshman in goal - Ali Kuennen," she said. "It was her first game of high school soccer and she was the starting goalkeeper. She did an amazing job.
"I put Bailey Hoglin in charge of the back line and she was communicating well and telling everyone where to go."
For the rest of the defense, Cook just wants to make some minor changes moving forward. She said she's glad there doesn't seem to be any major overhaul in order.
"It's the little things we have to work on - working in pairs to defend, not getting flat, positional shifts - and a lot of things will be solved," she said. "It's a whole comfort level thing. When they get rid of the nerves and just settle in and play, I think a lot of the problems will iron themselves out."
Moving forward, Cook has confidence that Park City will continue to improve as the players get more comfortable with both the system and each other.
"I know we have a lot of talent," she said. "It's just a matter of figuring out our formation, lineup and how everyone fits into the puzzle. We'll get it."
The Miners played at Skyline on Friday evening (after this issue went to press). They'll be back in action at Wasatch on Monday. The varsity game is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m.