"I think we feel like we left a lot on the table last year," said Park City head coach Chip Cook. "We didn't play our best soccer last year in the second half against Ogden. I think the kids are excited about the opportunity to have another shot against them. They're ready to pick it up."
One year later, the Miners have their chance at redemption against the 3A state champion Tigers.
Park City toppled visiting Dixie 3-0 Saturday afternoon in the 3A quarterfinal at the North 40 Field, ensuring the two remaining undefeated teams in 3A soccer would meet again in the semifinals with a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium and the state championship match on the line. The Miners (16-0-2) and the Tigers (17-0-0) are slated to tangle Friday at 1:15 p.m. at Jordan High School.
But in order for Park City to earn its rematch, the team had to get by the visiting Flyers at home Saturday afternoon. Under a chilled rainy sky, the Miners utilized their speed to rout the Flyers. Junior forward Jessica Dancy scored two goals and netted an assist as junior midfielder Kenzie Bothner scored Park City's third and final goal. Cook said Dixie used an offside trap to try and quell the Miners' speed, but Dancy and Co. used it to their advantage.
"It's kind of a 'live by the sword, die by the sword' mentality," Cook said. "Either you catch us offside or you're suddenly 20 yards behind Jessie. It's hard to play a team you don't know anything about. When we were possessing the ball, they couldn't keep up with us. It was a nice win."
Senior goalkeeper Skye Mooney recorded her second-straight postseason shutout against Dixie and her ninth in 18 matches this season.
But Mooney and the Park City backline face a daunting task against the high-flying Tigers in Friday's semifinal matchup. Through 17 matches, Ogden has scored 86 goals and conceded only six. Tiger attackers Kiley Porter (24 goals) and Avery Calton (17 goals) lead a punishing Ogden offense that averages over five goals per outing, while Ogden goalkeeper Kelsey East has had 11 shutouts.
However, Cook said the Tigers haven't seen a defense as athletic as the Miners' back four of Alysan Casey, Cheyenne Turner, Taylor Hodgson and Reese Pearson.
"They've had some 7-0 matches and we haven't had a single match like that all season," Cook said of Ogden. "I think it's nice for a team to be able to score goals, but I don't think they've faced a defense like ours yet. Our defense has been solid all season and dependable.
"Hopefully we stay organized and we do the little things to keep possession and keep the play in front of the defense and don't let them sneak in behind. We just need to play good, solid fundamental soccer and I think everything else will take care of itself."
Easier said than done.
Ogden hasn't lost a match since an Aug. 18, 2011, preseason game against St. Joseph's.
But if any team in 3A has the style and strengths to dethrone the Tigers, it's the Miners, who have the ability to play possession-style soccer and keep opposing offenses at bay. Park City allowed just four goals in Region 10 play.
Cook said this year's group of Miners is in a better position to continue its postseason run and points to its dominance throughout the season. In 2011, the team struggled through region play and didn't get going until late in the season.
"I think last year we had a great team, but this year our team is different," she said. "I feel like we are more prepared this year then we were last year at this time. We took a longer time to get rolling last year."
Suddenly, Park City finds itself in a position to avenge that nightmare second half last October at Jordan High School -- on the very same field against the very same team that sent the team packing earlier than hoped -- and Cook said this group is ready for the challenge.
"They're anxious to take advantage of this opportunity," she said. "It doesn't come around that often."