As a testament to the community’s devotion to soccer, Park City High School’s girls’ soccer team lost much of its nucleus from a 2009 state quarterfinal appearance and yet aspires to even greater heights in 2010.
"Every year, we have a shot at winning state," said PCHS head coach Chip Cook after the team’s first week of training. "The overall skill level is always tremendous. Our speed has also improved overall from last year."
The Miners, who will play home games on the North 40 field behind Treasure Mountain Middle School, open their season Tuesday playing at Class 5A Hillcrest at 3:30 p.m.
After securing the Region 10 championship – and outscoring opponents 49-2 on their way to an unbeaten 7-0-1 record in region – the Miners were devastated by a quarterfinal loss to Morgan in which they conceded two own goals to fall 2-1. In 2008, Park City didn’t bow out until the Class 3A state championship.
"I’m really hopeful that we can make a run at state this year," Cook said. "We have all the talent; it’s just a matter of putting it together."
Gone are eight seniors, including second-team all-state players Mara Rabin (forward), Rachel Ritter (midfield, now at Arizona State) and Brittany Gebo (defense, Cal Poly). The team’s leading scorer with eight goals, Katelyn Dalton, also graduated.
"We’ve seen already this year we have some people who can score goals," Cook said. And they shouldn’t have to worry about scoring too often. Senior goalkeeper Bethany Kanten will play at Harvard College in 2011 after recording seven shutouts last season and earning first-team all-state honors from the Deseret News.
Kanten will serve as co-captain along with fellow seniors Siena Palmacci, Blake Lukanowski and Julia Kranstover. Palmacci was a defender last year but figures to move up to forward, while Lukanowski and Kranstover work from the midfield. "They’re incredibly hard workers," Cook said. "They’re talented tactically as well as physically."
Sami Myers, Allie Cowers and Laurel Kasel are among the team’s other senior leaders. "This group of seniors has played together for a long time," Cook said. "They’re all incredibly skilled and they all know each other really well, too."
Many of the girls spend their summer months playing with club teams – as many as eight clubs are represented on the Miners’ roster. Now, it is just a matter of getting all the different club players to mesh, Cook said.
"We really focus on possession-style soccer," she said. "Club coaches do a great job of giving them the skill level to possess the ball."
Tryouts were held Aug. 2-4 at the Quinn’s fields, with 53 girls showing up. Cook said the team has a balance of players from all four classes and a couple of players who relocated to Park City who should see some time. "We’re waiting until we have a few games under our belt to identify the varsity team," she said. "We have so many good players that we just want to see them in game situations."
Hillcrest presents a difficult first opponent for the Miners, who routinely schedule tougher teams in preseason play since the games do not count toward playoff standing.
"It’s a good way to start establishing our identity as a team," Cook said. "I think they’re going to be a strong side. We’ll see."
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