Gretchen Swenson keeps the ball in play along the sideline during Park City s loss to Dixie in the 3A semifinals. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record
Gretchen Swenson keeps the ball in play along the sideline during Park City s loss to Dixie in the 3A semifinals. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record

As Finess White's shot, if it was even a shot at all, sailed in from 50 yards out, it didn't look like it would be much trouble for Park City High School goalkeeper Hannah Hyatt.

The ball lazily floated through the air towards the goal, looking more like an attempted pass than a full-on shot. But, as Hyatt drifted back, it became clear that White had found the perfect angle to make the save a real challenge.

With a 1-0 lead in the 3A state semifinal match at Jordan High School early in the second half, Park City seemed to be in control against Dixie. The Miners were creating solid offensive opportunities and it seemed only a matter of time before they would once again find the back of the net.

Unfortunately for Park City, as White's shot came in at the perfect height, bouncing off Hyatt's fingertips and into the goal, the momentum shifted as Dixie tied the game at 1. The Miners created a few more opportunities, but none were successful and the game went into overtime.

"That's soccer for you," Park City coach Chip Cook said. "It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to go in the goal."

She was quick to praise Hyatt's efforts, saying the junior had an excellent game overall.

"Hannah did a great job for us in goal," she said. "That was an unlucky one, that the sun was possibly in her eyes a little bit and she had some trouble handling it."

In overtime, more bad luck struck the Miners. What appeared at first to be the game-winning goal was disallowed when the referee whistled a Park City player for a foul.

"I think he got one of our girls for running into their keeper," Cook said. "I thought it was an unfortunate call. To me, it was a 50-50 ball and our player won it. The referees sometimes give the goalies more protection and immunity from the physical style of play. That's just part of soccer."

Ultimately, the Miners couldn't recreate the magic of junior Reese Pearson's first-half goal and the game went to penalty kicks.

The shootout-clinching goal sneaks by the outstretched hand of Park City goalkeeper Hannah Hyatt on Friday afternoon at Jordan High School. Dixie won the
The shootout-clinching goal sneaks by the outstretched hand of Park City goalkeeper Hannah Hyatt on Friday afternoon at Jordan High School. Dixie won the penalty kick shootout 4-1 after battling Park City to a 1-1 draw through two overtime periods. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record (Christopher Reeves)

After Dixie started off the shootout with a goal, PCHS senior Taylor Hodgson's shot went high. Then Dixie added another goal, followed by senior Devon Dunmire responding with a goal of her own for Park City.

Dixie's third kick also found the back of the net. Following that shot, Elizabeth Empey, the Dixie keeper, stopped senior Gretchen Swenson's shot. Needing to score on only one of its final two shots, Dixie didn't waste any time, knocking the fourth PK past Hyatt to claim a 4-1 shootout victory and advance to the state title game, where it would ultimately defeat Juan Diego for the 3A crown.

"Penalty kicks are an awful way to lose a soccer game," Cook said. "It's got to end sometime, I suppose, but we just didn't play our best game today. I thought if we could just get through this one, we'd have a better outing [Saturday]."

She added that not capitalizing on good scoring opportunities once again hurt the Miners.

"Again, we were creating a lot of dangerous opportunities," she said. "But we had a little more trouble than we normally do with possession today. Give some credit to [Dixie], but we didn't play our best today. It's been the story of our season. I kept hoping the tides would turn, but we just couldn't get it done today."

Though the semifinal loss was tough to stomach, Cook said coaching this year's squad was a great experience.

"They're a great, dedicated, amazingly skilled, athletic, confident, competent - all the adjectives you can think of - amazing team," she said. "I'm very proud of them. This team was so talented."