Logan deals season-ending blow to Miners
A different opponent may have yielded results for the Park City boys’ soccer team at the state tournament quarter-finals on Saturday, but an early rematch of last year’s finals between the reigning champion Miners and runner-up Logan abruptly ended Park City’s quest for a fourth consecutive state title. The narrow 2-1 victory for Logan at its home field stopped Park City from advancing to the semi-finals for the first time in 15 years. But head coach Mike Guetschow was not disappointed with the Miners’ play, saying that their place in the tournament did not indicate their rank overall among class 3A teams.
"We knew going into it that Logan was going to be a tough match," he said. "We’re two of the best four teams in the state, which made the quarter-final tougher this year [than it normally is]."
Guetschow continued to say that circumstances had as much to do with the victory as skill. "To be successful in a tournament setting requires getting the right breaks. We didn’t get that one break that would have won the game. But I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if we had won or said it would have been a huge upset. It was a very even-keeled match."
The first half passed without a point for either team, despite well-executed plays on both sides, Guetschow said. "They had some chances, but we were able to keep them from scoring," he said. "And we had some good shots. One pass from Paul Hanley to Tommy Martin was set up perfectly, but their goalie made a good save."
The Miners put on the pressure in the second half, scoring in the 43rd minute with a free kick by AJ Gitlin. The Grizzlies responded swiftly, however, following Gitlin’s goal in a matter of minutes with one from Gaby Okito. A hard-fought battle continued into the 12th minute, when Logan sophomore Tanner Gittins sank a shot from mid-field.
"They had a beautiful goal early on," Guetschow said of Okito’s shot, "but the rest of the game was very even. Their midfielder hit a long shot that [goalkeeper] Jacob [Sirianni] just didn’t have a chance to save."
The high emotions of the tight game drew a red card from Park City senior Chase Gordon, who reacted to the call by spitting at the referee and taunting the Logan crowd as he left the field. Guetschow said he was embarrassed by Gordon’s tantrum.
"It was the worst display of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen," he said. "He embarrassed himself and everyone associated with the program."
AJ Gitlin said his teammate gave in to negative perceptions of Park City’s winning history.
"Everybody wants Park City to lose because we’ve won so much," he said. "Honestly, I think refs want to give out more cards to us. It’s easy to get hot headed, but you have to remember your love of the game and why you play."
Gitlin, who will play next year for the University of Missouri, said he was more disappointed about the end of playing soccer with his lifelong friends than failing to secure a state championship.
"I’ve been playing with Paul [Hanley] and Robbie [Patrick] since I was 10 years old," he said. "When I saw the guys’ faces after the game, it was pretty emotional. Some of them aren’t going to keep playing."
Guetschow said he is looking forward to next year with a young team that he believes could be in line for another state championship, but he did not want to put this year out of mind just yet.
"I hate to look forward while it’s still this season," he said. "This is time to give the seniors their recognition. I’m proud of our senior captions AJ up front, Paul Hanley, Robby Patrick on defense who stepped up all throughout the season."
But Gitlin said he’s ready for the future.
"The end is the end, and you’ve got to just look forward," he said.
This year’s class 3A tournament continues May 11 at Dixie State College with the semi-finals, where Logan will play Delta and Pine View will battle Bear River.
Jennifer McDonald, a self-described lifelong Republican, was selected as the Summit County Republican Party chair last week.