Miners lose in preseason showdown | ParkRecord.com

Miners lose in preseason showdown

A.J. Gitlin (right) and Matt Knoop get tangled up with an Alta defender.

There’s something to be said for starting off strong.

In just their second game of the year, the 3A top-ranked Park City boys soccer squad headed to Salt Lake Wednesday to take on Alta, the No. 2 team in 5A. The team came one goal short in the 2-1 loss, but it wasn’t for lack of effort or competitiveness on the field.

"We’ve tried to schedule a very competitive preseason, non-region schedule to challenge the guys," said Miners head coach Mike Guetschow.

And challenge was the name of the game. In the first half, the Miners had two nemeses — the relentless Hawk defense that was able to effectively quiet Park City’s strong scoring corps, including Reid Baker, Roberto "Betu" Link and A.J. Gitlin, and the wind. Gusts of wind were so strong in the first half that it was clearly affecting the Miners’ ability to score.

"It was a huge factor in the first half. They were playing the ball high and long and into the wind and with that it was tough to chase the ball," Guetschow said.

Still, the Miners managed to keep the Hawks scoreless until the 35th minute, when a breakdown on the defensive side forced Park City goalie Ryan Lynsky to move outside of his line on the left. Colby Swensen, a forward for Alta, took advantage, and easily shot the ball into the empty net.

In the second half, the winds had subsided somewhat and the Miners were able to control the ball more. In the 64th minute, another Park City defensive mistake left the goal unattended for another Alta goal by Garrett Losee, but the ball soon started bouncing in the Miners’ direction. After a Park City penalty kick rattled off the crossbar in the 74th minute, Gitlin was able to grab the quick rebound from Ryan Williams and convert it for a Miners’ goal. Two minutes later, Nick Gunderson took another shot, which was narrowly saved by Alta’s goalie, Aaron Weymann. In the final five minutes of the game, the Alta defense began to struggle to contain the Miners, but Park City was unable to capitalize on the opportunity and lost 2-1.

"That’s as close to a playoff-type atmosphere that you’ll see in a preseason game," commented Guetschow. Both teams were chock-full of talented senior players, many of whom play together in club soccer.

Guetschow said he was pleased with how well his team handled such a high-caliber opponent, blaming the mistakes on early season growing pains.

"I like our chances. I felt we were outplaying them from halftime," Guetschow said.

The Miners will have just a few days to work out the glitches before taking on 4A powerhouse Sky View on Saturday. Guetschow’s team of skilled and win-hungry seniors should continue to play well throughout the preseason. Among the seniors is Linck, a Brazilian player who moved from Salt Lake to Park City this year and looks to help the Miners scorecard. The Miners also have a number of talented juniors on the roster that should push the seniors to play their best all season to retain their starting positions.

The Miners will face Sky View on Saturday, March 11 at 10 a.m. at the Alta High field. The game is considered a home match for the Miners, whose home field is still under snow.

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