Miners set sights on state title
If a game can’t be over in the opening minute, then at least give the Park City boys soccer team credit for trying.
In their quarterfinal playoff game against Snow Canyon on Saturday, the Miners’ Stephen Hart scored in the first 15 seconds of game, converting a penalty kick after being taken down inside of the box. The Miners never looked back.
Nine unanswered goals later, the referee finally blew the whistle on the 9-0 victory, one of the Miners’ biggest wins of the season.
"To come out and get a goal in less than a minute is a great start," said head coach Mike Guetschow.
And the goals kept pouring in. Shea Curran turned in two scores and Reid Baker, Roberto "Betu" Linck, Harrison Holley, Nic Gunderson, Paul Hanley and Tom Gold all contributed goals. Baker contributed key assists as well.
"Reid played his best game of the season," Guetschow said.
Already six goals ahead at the half, Guetschow used the opportunity to give his bench an opportunity to gain postseason exposure.
"For the varsity to play that well lets the other guys get valuable playoff experience," Guetschow said.
Unfortunately, Guetschow may not have pulled all of his starters soon enough. Early in the second half, Matt Knoop, a key component in the Miners’ quest for the 3A state title, took himself out of the game after receiving yellow card. The yellow soon turned into a red card after the referee thought Knoop made a foul comment in response to the yellow. A clarification later reduced the call back to a yellow card, maintaining Knoop’s ability to play in Friday’s playoff game.
"The overriding concern in these situations becomes players talking and getting a yellow card that puts them out for the game," Guetschow.
Guetschow said despite the relative ease of the Snow Canyon game, his team is very focused on winning every game ahead of them.
"This was one step, we’ve got two more to go," Guetschow.
The Miners exited in a semifinal shootout against Waterford last year, and girded with what is perhaps the most talented Park City team off all-time, are determined to win the state championship this time around.
"They are focused on making this last as long as possible," Guetschow said.
Besides the mental preparation, the Miners will also have some site challenges for which to prepare. The state finals will be played at Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake on a grass football field. The Miners have been practicing and playing home games on the new artificial sports turf field at Quinn’s Junction. Guetschow plans to move to the North 40 Field for practice this week to reacquaint his team with the feel of grass. The highly skilled Miners also thrive on playing wide-open fields, so Guetschow will work on playing a more crowded game style.
"We will focus on things that will be different," Guetschow said.
Other obstacles include a somewhat hobbled team. Gone for the season is AJ Gitlin to knee surgery and the injured Chase Gordon, Ryan Williams and Ryan Simons all plan to rally for what will be the last games of their high school soccer careers. With the two final games scheduled within about 18 hours of each other, a strong team will be of the utmost importance to the title-hungry Miners.
"We’ll need everyone healthy and ready," Guetschow said.
The Miners will do their best to make that happen.
"Only a few teams are left practicing," Guetschow said. "It’s good to be one of them."
The Miners will face Bear River on Friday, May 12 at 3 p.m. at Cottonwood High school.
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