Miners leaning on leadership heading into state playoffs
October 11, 2016
With the regular season concluded and the playoffs underway, a sense of urgency has developed within the Park City High School girls' soccer team. While much will stay the same — Head Coach Chip Cook has stressed playing Miner soccer — there's something about the postseason that calls for more attention, increased effort and peak performance.
"We're just gonna go in and work hard and do what we know and trust. It hasn't let us down recently when we stick to the game plan and stick to our strengths, so we're just going to continue to do that," Cook said. "We just have to stick to sound tactics and our defense has been pretty solid all year. … We've been a pretty stingy defense. We're gonna continue to work on that. That's what we're going to count on, stingy defense."
All of the previously mentioned things are attainable through smart decision-making and strong leadership, a quality Cook believes her team, who finished the season with a 10-6 overall record, 7-1 in region play, possesses. As Cook mentioned, it at all starts with defense for the Miners, where they boast one of Region 10's best leaders in Bailey Hoglin.
Holding down a unit that consists primarily of freshmen and sophomores, Hoglin has been the anchor that holds the ship steady. Whenever an opposing attacker gets through the defense, you can count on Hoglin racing back to either steal the ball or knock it away. At the very least, she makes every play pretty difficult on her opponent.
Her physicality is valued, but it's her leadership that separates her. In between plays, you can hear the loud voice of No. 4 coming from the back line. Sometimes, they are words of encouragement or congratulations. Other times, the words are harsher, as Hoglin isn't afraid to get on her teammates if it's needed.
"She's really good in the air, she's very strong physically and she's also a leader," Cook said of Hoglin. "She's our communication, our voice back there. It just allows some of our younger centers, it allows them to settle in a little bit more and concentrate on one job. She takes on that role and it makes a huge difference for us back there. Her leadership alone just kind of takes the pressure off of our shoulders."
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While Hoglin might be more vocal than others, there are a number of leaders on this team. The seniors are obvious standouts, but juniors, even some underclassmen, have stepped up at different times throughout the season. Even so, it'll be the seniors, the ones who have been to the postseason multiple times in their prep careers, who will lead the charge.
"It's invaluable," Cook said of leadership on the team. "It's one of those things where we've been here before, we know what it feels like. We know what it takes. It's gotta be all hands on deck and a full commitment to the team."
Park City's first opponent in the UHSAA 3A state playoffs will be Richfield, a team whose 4-8-3 record isn't as important to Cook as her own team's preparation. While admitting that she doesn't really "know anything" about their first-round opponent, Cook is confident that if the Miners continue to make other teams play their game that they will walk away from the North 40 fields on Wednesday afternoon victorious.
"We've been preparing since Aug. 1, and they've been putting the work in since Day 1," Cook said of her players. "Everybody has made that commitment and we're ready."
Kickoff between the Miners and Richfield is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at the North 40 fields.
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