Miners: Goal accomplished
The Park City boys soccer team spent most of their season as the team favored to win the state championship, but all the hype boiled down to heart as the Miners won in a 1-0 shutout against the undefeated Logan Grizzlies in the 3A state soccer championship game at Cottonwood High School on Saturday.
"We were hyped as the best team all year, but I don’t care about that," said senior sweeper Austin Blais. "I am happy we won. I let the scoreboard decide."
And decide it did.
The Miners only scored once in the fifth minute of the game on a goal by midfielder Chase Gordon, who headed the ball into the net off of a throw by Stephen Hart. That was all they needed to earn their second title in three years.
"This group had the potential all year," Head coach Mike Guetschow said. "I think our defense came together and locked it down in the playoffs. Zeroes win championships."
Those zeroes were the result of a stingy Miners defense. The Miners managed to swarm the Grizzlies leading scorer, freshman Edwin Sanchez, known for using his quick speed to score, who did not get a good look at the goal until late in the game.
"I wouldn’t let Sanchez get ahead of me," said Blais.
Goalkeeper Ryan Lynsky, who recorded his ninth shutout of year, also came up big for the Miners making numerous key saves in the second half, including a stop in the 69th minute on a Sanchez shot. The Miners also managed to contain the Grizzlies to their side of the field for most of the second half.
"I know my defense was the most solid in the state," Lynsky said.
Although the Miners won the state championship two years ago against Morgan, this win will be most memorable for Park City’s talent-laden senior class.
"It feels really good," Blais said "This is our trophy."
Guetschow had been through the Miners ups and downs all year as they tried to merge their highly-touted potential into a state title.
Would he concede that with the crown they were the best boys soccer team ever in Park City?
"I think at the given time, yes," Guetschow said. "They’ve proved themselves and made themselves state champions."
The Miners path was not easy at times. It required dramatic finishes against Ogden in the first round and again against Bear River in the semifinals, where it took a game-saving goal in double overtime by Stephen Hart in the 98th minute to give Park City the 2-1 win.
"I’ve never been a great scorer," Hart said. "Everything came together."
Guetshow said he couldn’t have been happier for Hart whose skills shone throughout the finals.
"He’s a kid that’s kept improving all four years. It’s great to see a kid that works that hard get the rewards," Guetschow said.
Not everyone was heaping on the Park City praise. Logan’s coach Tod Martin went so far as to call the Miners "dirty." Things did get bit dirty at times with both teams receiving yellow cards in the first half due to physical play, but overall both teams turned in a well-fought battle. Logan was outsized and struggled to keep up with Park City’s finesse, which may have led to some of the problems. Logan was also without the assistance of starting sweeper Fabrice Ntambwe-Kalala, who received a red card in the previous game.
But in the end, colored cards meant little as the Miners could finally be called the best name of all state champions.
"The end result is that these boys are smiling and holding a state championship trophy," Guetshow said.
3A State Semifinals
Park City 2, Bear River 1, 2OT- In the semifinals, the Miners faced perhaps their most difficult challenge yet; erasing a 1-0 deficit against a determined Bear River team on a narrow, bumpy Cottonwood High School field, which did not allow them to take full advantage of their immense skills.
Seth Hansen, one of 3-A’s leading scorers, put the Bears ahead in the tenth minute when he slotted the ball past Park City goalkeeper Ryan Lynsky, who had come off of his line to challenge the otherwise uncontested Hansen. With the exception of one 15-20-minute stretch during the first half, Park City outplayed the Bears and mostly was able to control the game, but did not score until the 69th minute, when Ryan Williams produced the equalizer. After a long throw by Nick Gunderson from the right side of the field grazed off of Stephen Hart’s head, Williams found himself essentially alone in the 18 yard box and put the ball away with a purposeful volley. After both teams missed chances to win in regulation, the game went into golden goal overtime.
In the first period of overtime, neither team scored, setting the stage for Hart to redeem himself and play the hero. Throughout the game, Hart had multiple chances to score, many of which he created for himself, but he could not find the back of the net. That is, until late in the second period of overtime, when he used his persistence and blistering speed to get to the ball, score the winning goal and keep the Miners’ season alive.
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Park City last weekend continued to display a sign on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip with outdated information about mask requirements. City Hall says updated signs are on order and will be displayed shortly.