It had been a tough couple of weeks for the Park City High School boys lacrosse team. After a great start, and a nearly unblemished record over the first part of the season, the team ventured into the "Murderer's Row" of the four top-ranked lacrosse squads in Utah. The results were tough losses to Juan Diego, Brighton, and Lone Peak (which between them finished 44-1 in league play) and a close contest with perennial powerhouse Alta, which won with a fourth-quarter surge against the short-handed Park City squad. So, heading into the Wednesday evening matchup against conference rival and heavily favored Judge Memorial, the team was determined to rise to the challenge and return to its winning ways.
The game at Judge Memorial stadium started well for Park City, with a quick goal by sophomore Chad Merrick. However, Judge immediately answered with a goal, and, shortly afterwards, two more. But then the Park City defense dug in and shut down the Judge offense, thanks to the determined physical play of seniors Daniel West and Isaac Rogers and junior Martin Lenz. On the other end of the field, things were heating up fast as Merrick ripped off three more quick goals to end the quarter 4-3 in favor of the Miners.
The second quarter started with three unanswered goals by Park City before Judge could get back on the board. A couple more Park City goals brought the halftime score to 9-5.
The third quarter was hard-fought, and Judge managed to close the gap by one goal, scoring four points versus three for Park City by junior Christian Pompoco and sophomores Kolton Atkinson and Tucker Mirams. That gap narrowed to a nerve-wracking one point in the fourth, until Merrick completed his remarkable double hat trick for the night with three minutes left in the game.
A minute later Judge answered to pull within one again. Judge had possession in the final minute, but with thirty seconds left sophomore Chase Flinders stripped a Judge player of the ball and carried it upfield to run out the clock.
When the 14-13 victory was final, Park City stormed the field to pig-pile on freshman goalie Sheridan Buchholz, who had seven saves in the victory. Fortunately, he was not crushed in the melee. The final goal tally for Park City was: Merrick, 6; Pompoco, 3; senior Grant Beal, 2; junior Colton Kissel, 1; Mirams, 1; and Atkinson, 1. Atkinson also led the Miners in assists with 5 feeds. Behind the play of faceoff specialist freshman Jackson Burton, Park City won 17 of 26 faceoffs.
"The win against Judge, our first in six years, is huge for the Park City program," Head Coach Andy Langendorf said after the game. "We are a very young team, and Judge is one of the best in the state, with a coaching staff that is world-class at every level. This just goes to show that we are a team to watch in the years to come, and that the Park City lacrosse program is on the right track."
With the victory, Park City captured the fourth seed in the Salt Lake/Sandy super conference and will play at home against Spanish Fork in the first round of the state playoffs next Wednesday (game details will be available next week on www.parkcitylacrosse.org). The regular-season finale will be played today against Waterford at 3 p.m. at Dozier Stadium. At that time PCLO will be recognizing its graduating seniors: varsity players Grant Beal, Alex Boyle, Colton Jamison, Patrick O'Brien, Jaden Rasch, Isaac Rogers and Daniel West and JV players Ryan Carlson, Brandon Lewis, Hunter Neuberger and Kenny Vanthof.