Senior sendoff: Emotional Miners cruise past Union | ParkRecord.com

Senior sendoff: Emotional Miners cruise past Union

The Park City girls' soccer team competed in two matches this week; one being a tough matchup with a scrappy regional foe and the other being a celebratory send-off for the team's seniors. The results were the same, as the Miners pulled off victories in both with a 2-0 win over Tooele on Tuesday and a 5-0 win over Union on Thursday.

Despite having one game left to play at the North 40 fields, Park City celebrated its seniors in the Union game at Dozier Field throughout. When the game started, Head Coach Chip Cook played a lot of the seniors to kick things off instead of her typical starting lineup, which was her goal heading into this game.

"The game plan was to celebrate our seniors," Cook said. "It was just a celebration of them and to get them as much playing time as we could."

That celebration continued at halftime, when the team's 10 seniors, with tears streaming down their faces, were honored individually on the field under the lights. With friends and family in the stands, and on the field, to cheer them on, it was an emotional night for all involved.

"They're a great bunch of girls, just amazing," Cook said of the group. "We're going to miss them; their spirit, their abilities, their kindness. They're just an awesome group of kids."

In the game, the Miners used goals from five different players — one each from seniors Evie Edwards and Jessica DiCaprio — to jump out to a 5-0 lead by halftime, and the rout was on. They didn't score any additional goals in the second half, but still had some chances on the net that just didn't go their way.

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"The goals didn't come, but the opportunities were there still," Cook said. "It was great soccer in that second half. … I thought it was much better soccer than in the first half because we were sharing the ball and looking towards longer-term goals."

Turning back the clock to Tuesday's game versus Tooele, things weren't as cheery.

With just a 1-0 Park City lead at the half, courtesy of a Casey Crawford goal on a penalty kick, players on both sides began to play more aggressively with each passing second. The chippiness on the field extended to the sideline after a Buffalo player hit the ground after some shoulder-to-shoulder contact with a Park City defender, leading to a Tooele spectator shouting at one of the officials.

Originally, the fan argued slightly back and forth, reluctant to leave after the official had asked him to leave the sideline. The fan's actions nearly cost Tooele the game, as the official briefly called the game with a decent chunk of time left on the clock for the Buffaloes to tie things up. Eventually, the fan made his way to the parking lot to watch the game from there.

Players and coaches alike were not pleased with the official and after talking it over with the other referees, the game was back on. The pushy play settled for the remainder of the time, but it was clear that both teams knew this was an important game with the high level of intensity.

Despite getting another goal from Crawford to seal the win, Cook wasn't happy with some of the bad sportsmanship displayed throughout the match.

"It was very feisty, super contentious," Cook said. "It came to a boiling point where we said, 'Hey, we're not gonna let behaviors control how we play. Let's get out there, let's just be physically tough, mentally [tough]. Practice for the games in the future that are going to be equally as contentious.'"

The game against Tooele was a test for the Miners, and they passed. With just two regular season games left before the postseason, Cook hopes that games like that one will only strengthen her team to make it as far as possible in the playoffs.

"[The Tooele game] was full of adversity and we're growing in strength and confidence and our abilities as a team, our comfort level as a team. We just hope to continue that upward trend until we peak in the state championship game," Cook said with a smile.

The Miners will next be in action when they take on Stansbury at the North 40 fields on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

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