Defending state champs two steps closer |

Defending state champs two steps closer

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

The swine flu-induced hiatus and potential disqualification from state playoffs didn’t put a damper on the Park City High School boys’ soccer team. If anything, the setbacks served as an eye-opener for the players.

"I think it made them realize how badly they want to win," said assistant coach Jesse Blais after the Miners’ double victories Tuesday and Wednesday.

Amid a flurry of news coverage and a few Carbon fans sporting surgical masks, the Miners defeated the Dinos 7-1 in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday afternoon. With a goal by Michael Glenn in the first five minutes of the game, the players proved early on that they hadn’t let a little scheduling chaos slow them down.

By the latter part of the second half, Park City’s score had crept up to five and Carbon had yet to sink a goal. That gave head coach Caro Caro an opportunity to sub in some of his less-seasoned players and allow his starters to conserve their energy for quarterfinals the following day.

In the aftermath of their triumphant return to the field, the Miners admitted they felt a little "rusty" after five days with no official practices. But they knew that back-to-back playoff games would give them a chance to sharpen their skills before facing their fiercest competition in the days ahead.

The stakes were higher on Wednesday, when the team battled Ben Lomond for a pass to the semi-finals. However, Park City wasn’t fazed by the pressure and started the game off strong with a header goal by Alex Gordon.

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Austen Stevens and Michael Glenn rounded out the first half with one goal each, bringing the score to 3-0.

Ben Lomond’s offense, although quick and surefooted, couldn’t seem to get the ball past Park City’s powerhouse defense consisting of seniors Riley McCall, Ben Portwood and Adam Laufer.

Tensions among players, exacerbated by several controversial calls by the referees, served as evidence that this was a step above a regular-season game, and neither team was willing to go down without a fight.

But Park City prevailed with ease. Eric Laufer’s header goal in the beginning of the second half and Michael Turner’s shot with seven minutes remaining in the game brought the score to a clean 5-0.

"The guys were eager to come and play today," said head coach Caro Caro. "They wanted to prove that they aren’t rusty. They wanted to make a statement."

Park City will face Odgen in the 3A semifinals Friday at Jordan High School. The winner goes on to the state championship against the winner of the Logan vs. Judge match-up, which will take place prior to Park City’s game at the same location. The state finals are scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Jordan High School.

"We know Ogden is a good team, but if we play how we know how to play, I think we can beat anyone," said senior and co-captain Adam Laufer.

"We’re going to focus on playing how we did today," added senior Alex Johnson.

Caro said the team would prepare for semi-finals by practicing corner kicks, defense strategies and diversity in the plan of attack. "Ogden seems to have really good control and they have a good striker," Caro said, referring to the team’s best scorer.

Caro said he’s excited to watch his players fight to defend their state title. "This is going to get even better," he said.