Bulldogs dampen Park City’s spirits
Much like the rainstorm that drenched the Park City/Judge game on Wednesday afternoon, Miners head soccer coach Mike Guetschow saw the loss coming. His team had only managed to score three goals in the last three games, and Guetschow knew a statistic like that would not go unnoticed by their stiff Region 10 competition.
"We told them this was coming and it was completely avoidable," Guetschow said. "It was an exceptionally frustrating game."
And then, like a cloudburst it happened. The Miners, unable to convert at the goal line, lost to the Bulldogs 1-0.
Unable to match Park City talent-wise, the Bulldogs decided to use the age-old tactic of defense to make up for their lack of offense. The Miners expected it, but were not able to deal with it when it happened. Judge dropped between five and six guys into the defense, hoping for a center attack from the Miners.
"We didn’t have the composure to deal with that," Guetschow said. "We didn’t handle it well and we started to get depressed."
Park City, despite making 25 shots on goal attempts, were incapable of making the score. Without any points, the Bulldogs were never forced to come out of their defensive set to play offense.
Judge goalkeeper, Aaron Rokeach, was no help either. Besides a huge save on a direct shot in the first half, he was also able to keep numerous other attempts out of the net.
"They have a good goalie and he had a good game," Guetschow said.
The Miners’ inability to put the ball in the net was a source of frustration for the team that only got worse as the game wore on. The Miners kept pressing to finish and the more they pressed, the harder it became to score.
Other factors contributed to the loss. Besides the wet, cold weather, the center referee missed the game after failing to realize that all Judge home games were being played at Juan Diego while the Bulldogs home field is under renovation. The no-show forced two inexperienced line referees to manage the game.
"Unfortunately, those guys were forced to ref the game and were over their heads. They were in a bad situation," Guetschow said.
The bad situation became worse as Judge scored on what Park City thought was a questionable call. Late in the game in the 72nd minute, Chris Meade took a long ball and knocked down a Park City defender to score the only goal of the game. The Miners thought a foul had occurred, but nothing was called. The shot was the only one taken by the Bulldogs the entire game.
The referee also threw Park City’s Nick Gunderson out of the game for swearing, when the inappropriate words had come from another player.
"It [lack of a center ref] makes it bad for everybody. The game was getting out of hand," Guetschow said.
Still, Guetschow is trying to put the game into perspective.
"We out shot them 25-1 and lost. You’ve got to take that with a grain of salt," Guetschow said. "That’s the nature of the game. We’ve got to be better at dealing with the situation as it is."
The Miners are still clearly the favored team to win the class 3A title, but their recent problems of converting their talent into solid wins is disconcerting for the Park City coaching staff.
"Are we as good as we think we are?" Guetschow asked. "There’s not any urgency. There’s an expectation that all we need to do is just show up and that’s not true."
The Miners will need to regain their composure soon, because in a very competitive region, each game is important. Guetschow says that the Miners can’t afford any more losses if they want to win the region title. He worries that some of the problems may be stemming from a few cases of "senioritis." He feels that some of his senior’s eagerness to graduate and move on has cost them their sense of urgency on the field.
"The challenge for the seniors is balancing out their second semester," Guetschow said. "Is the team gonna be better off starting with seniors or sticking with younger, hungrier guys?"
Some of the seniors are still driven. Matt Knoop and captain Austin Blais wore themselves out trying to pull out a win for the Miners at the end — to no avail.
"They played their hearts out," Guetschow said.
With frustrations and emotions getting the best of everyone on the field and in the stands, the referees decided to call off the junior varsity game.
"The game should never have been at the point where that [refereeing] matters," Guetschow said. "We should have beat that team three, four, five to zero."
Guetschow is just hopeful that the Judge game will serve as a turning point for his team.
"Sometimes this can be a wake-up call," Guetschow said. "If we come out and play like we did in the last 10 minutes of the game — with offensive urgency from the very beginning, then we will have learned from it. If we come out flat, we will be forced to find some players willing to play with urgency and emotion."
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