Frosh keeps fire alive in soccer playoffs
Each of the last 10 years, the Ogden Tigers have either gone on to win the 3A State championship or have lost in the playoffs to the eventual champion. Let us hope that history repeats itself.
On Wednesday, May 3, in a grueling, tightly contested and physical first-round playoff game, the Park City Miners defeated the Tigers 2-1 in the first period of golden goal overtime. Freshman standout Tommy Martin, who has exceeded everyone’s expectations this season, scored the winning goal.
This may have been a first-round game, but the Miners knew a victory would not come without a fight.
"It wasn’t too big of a surprise," said head coach Mike Guetschow of how competitive the game was.
Park City and Ogden have met in the playoffs five of the last six years and seven of the last 10, and have been the best two 3A teams during most of this time. The Tigers are also the defending state champions in 3A.
After tying for second in its region, Ogden lost a coin toss and consequently two of the best four teams in 3A found themselves matched up in the first round. "It would have been nicer to play an easier team as a reward for winning region, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way," Guetschow comments.
Park City put its superior skills on display for much of the game, but struggled to find holes in the Tigers’ menacing and physical defense. The ball was in Ogden’s defensive half the vast majority of the game, but the Tigers did an excellent job of containing the Miners’ usually dynamic offense, holding it scoreless until late in regulation time. Ogden allowed only eight goals the entire regular season, and Guetschow says, "They had the second best defense in the state behind Park City, so I wasn’t expecting too high scoring of a game."
It wasn’t until late in regular time that Park City was able to break the scoreless deadlock. Stephen Hart knocked a corner kick into the mix and Austin Blais, a defender, ran in from the back post to poke the ball into the net, momentarily quieting the fervid Ogden crowd. The Tigers, however, did not wait long to strike back. In injury time, just minutes after Blais’ goal, a shot by Nick Smock deflected off of the crossbar and, according to the officials, into the goal. The ball scarcely passed the goal line, and the officials did not signal that a goal had been scored until after Park City fans had had time to give a premature sigh of relief. Thus, overtime presented itself and an upset — if it could have even been called that — remained a possibility.
And that brings the game to Martin’s goal, the highlight of what has been a stellar season for the freshman. Just four minutes into extra time, Hart sent a cross in from the right corner and Martin, who has proven time after time that he is fearless and effective in the air, went up high to head the ball powerfully past the Ogden goalkeeper and into the goal.
Guetschow, who has been very pleased with Martin’s play all season, says of the freshman, "He has stepped into a role that no one foresaw him stepping into at the start of the season." The coach compares Martin’s goal to the one that Ryan Williams, now a senior, scored two years ago in overtime of a second-round playoff game; both were underclassmen on senior-heavy teams and each contributed more to his team than anyone could have guessed.
The game was the biggest test that Park City has faced since its game against Alta early in the season, but the road, most likely, will not get smoother from here.
"There are going to be no easy games anymore," Guetschow remarked.
He does feel, however, that if Park City plays with the type of intensity that it has in its last few games, especially the one against Ogden, the team has a good chance to win state.
The Miners’ quarterfinal game will be against Snow Canyon at noon on Saturday, May 6 and will be played at the new field at Quinn’s Junction.
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The Park City lodging industry in recent weeks experienced an uptick in projected occupancy numbers during the dates of the Sundance Film Festival, but the figures remain depressed from a typical year during the largest special event on the city’s calendar.