Girls soccer kicks off new season
The Park City High girls soccer team took the first step on the road to repeat as 3A state champions, stumbling slightly, but remaining upright and moving forward.
The Miners lost to last year’s 4A state runner-up, Bountiful, 4-2 Tuesday, but first-year head coach Matt Evans said it was a positive experience the team can learn from.
"[After the game] I just spoke to the team about the fact that we need to be playing the best teams in the state now and how each game needs to be about growth and learning," Evans said. "Winning right now is not the issue yet — but we need a focus on learning, experience and growth."
Bountiful scored the first two goals in the game before goals by Ellie Reed and Hanna Terry tied the game. But two mistakes by the Miners opened the door for Bountiful to net two more.
"I felt we played OK," Evans said. "I thought in the first half we played well, but we missed a lot of chances. Overall, I was happy with how we played."
Bountiful is not the only school with a larger classification that Evans scheduled. Park City will play their next game at home on Tuesday against 5A Skyline at 3:30 p.m.
Evans, who said he won’t settle for anything less than a spot in the state finals this year, is hopeful that Reed and others can step in and lead the team after the departure of Kelly Islam, traditionally held as one of the best players to play at PCHS.
Reed has been called up by the U.S. Under-17 National Team in the past, and has proven that she can play at the highest level. As an attacking midfielder or forward, Evans said she will need to show leadership if the team is to succeed.
"I expect her to really step up and take control," Evans said. "She brings a lot of creativity and she has a great left and right foot. She’s the type of player who can be surrounded by three or four defenders and make something positive out of it."
Also one of the top runners for the Park City High cross country team, Reed trains with the distance runners every morning before going to soccer practice. Evans said he’s not worried about any conflicts.
"Soccer is her first priority, so if there is ever a conflict she’d choose soccer, so it’s not a big deal for us at all," he said.
In addition to Reed, Evans said sophomore Lindsay Lisonbee will need to be the captain of the defense as the sweeper, or last defender before the goalie.
"She should be solid in the back," he said. "She will take a leadership role in the back just by her play on the field."
Other than Reed and Lisonbee, who will have more responsibility as team leaders, Evans said the rest of the team will need to work hard and come together if they want to reach their goals.
"I think those two are our keys players and the others are just the blue-collar type of players who work hard and get their job done," he said. "With that, I really expect us to go far in the playoffs and we definitely have a shot at winning it again this year."
Although high school soccer, when compared to club soccer, is known for being much more focused on individual play and a constant attack to the goal, Evans said he will teach a more flowing, beautiful style of play.
"Whereas most teams will just try to go forward, will try to stress keeping possession and being patient, and only attacking when the chance is there," he said. "We just want to play good soccer."
With that style of play, Evans said the Miners will spread out and unbalance defenses, creating holes to attack. He also said they won’t have the luxury of an opponent overlooking Park City, because their recent success has placed expectations so high.
"I think they do expect to win games, as we will do," he said. "I think they were all disappointed in the first loss. The bar has been set very high for them, but I think they can play up to it. It’s a great bunch of girls, all of them. There’s no reason why we won’t see ourselves in that title game again this year."
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Tourism revenue increased month over month this summer, the Park City Chamber/Bureau reported, but lodging numbers are still off 22% for December. Officials reported a recent uptick in bookings, though, pointing to a modicum of certainty after ski resorts announced their COVID-related opening policies.