Oh-so-close, but no cigar for Miners in final | ParkRecord.com

Oh-so-close, but no cigar for Miners in final

Christopher Kamrani, Of the Record staff

As head coach Tyler Pool put it, they were just right there.

With a plethora of shots firing off the crossbar or skipping right to the opposing goalie, the Park City High School girls’ water polo team came just short of finishing its impressive postseason run atop the state, falling to Utah County 6-5 in the high school state championship last weekend.

"They played really well together," Pool said. "We just ended up missing a few shots.

We just ended up one point behind."

After heading into the playoffs with a high seed, the Miners, who had no seniors on this year’s squad, bested Cyprus High School in the quarterfinals before advancing to take on a tough Canyon View High School team in the semifinals.

Pool said that hotly-contested match was one of the most intense he saw in his first year as a head coach.

"It was a really defensive game," he said. "We won, 3-2. We were able to counter a few of their slower players and we capitalized that way.

"(Goalie) Sheridan (Zambrano) had a great game in the cage," Pool added. "She was one of many reasons we won the Canyon View game. She stopped a lot of big opportunities for them."

While Park City advanced to the state title game, the team was a bit undermanned.

Pool said two key players missed the game due to the Park City High School prom, but he was still thoroughly impressed by the way his team responded on the largest stage.

"The thing that is great about this girls’ team is, there’s not a huge range of ability," he said. "They’re all pretty even. It’s pretty easy for me, as a coach, to put in the best players on that given day."

Pool called the championship loss a "heartbreaker" for his young team; what made it worse, he said, was Park City’s golden chance to knot things up with about 17 seconds left in the match.

"We had a clear opportunity, but the pass just didn’t quite make it," he said recalling the intensity of the final seconds.

He said his entire team played phenomenally in the tournament, but he singled out the likes of Abby Boyer, who is the team’s main defenseman and, he said, "shut down a lot of bigger offensive players." He also said Jessie Smith and Katie Whiting continued to improve as exciting attackers.

The beauty of having a young, talented team minus a senior class is that the entire squad returns next year for another run at the title.

"It just helps out a lot," said Pool of his youngsters gaining big-time experience. "It just means they’re going to start to know each other better and know the game better and know how to play together as a team better.

"They’re still very proud of themselves. We still consider it a very successful tournament."

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