Park City proves to be ruler of the pool
The Park City High School boys’ water polo team made waves on Saturday at the class 3A state championships, winning its first title in school history after defeating Bear River, 3-2 at the Kearns Oquirrh Park. Head coach Larry Jackson said the Miners had steadily improved over the past few years, and after what he considered a surprisingly strong second place finish at last year’s tournament, he knew the team was ready to vie for the championship this year.
Strategy contributed to the game’s low score, Jackson said. Each team targeted the other’s strongest player, shutting them down with a defensive swarm. "Both teams have one individual who stands apart as a key scorer and contributor," Jackson said. "Tyler Pool is that guy for us, and they double and triple-teamed him all night." Pool, a senior, was named MVP of the league last year and earned 1st Team All-State honors this year. The Miners, in turn, focused on Bear River’s Tyler Parkinson, who also made 1st Team All-State honors.
With the usual leaders tied up the burden fell on less experienced players to take charge. In the end, the youthful Miners rose to the challenge.
"Our younger guys had to step it up, and they really got the job done," Jackson said. Freshman Matt Jones gave the team an early lead, and sophomore Briggs Lyman followed a goal by Bear River with two more of his own. Lyman earned 1st Team All-State for his season-long efforts. Having secured a comfortable 3-1 led, the Miners clinched their victory even as the Bears snuck in a final shot near the end of the game.
Jackson credited goalie Colin Stuard with shielding the Miners from a much higher scoring game in Bear River’s favor. The aggressive Bears were able to pull off shots, Jackson said, but Stuart kept nearly every one of them from reaching the net.
"[Colin] had some very important saves," Jackson said of the sophomore. "He had an incredible game, probably the best I’ve ever seen him play."
Park City will graduate just three seniors this year, putting the Miners in good position to repeat its success next season. "Briggs and Matt will be key players," Jackson said. Combined with Stuard, who earned 2nd Team All-State honors, the Miners can look forward to the next two years without losing one of the trio to graduation.
This season hasn’t ended just yet, however. The team will travel to Draper May 17-19 to compete against 5A and 4A teams in the Champions Challenge.
The girls’ team placed fourth at state, an effort Jackson said pleasantly surprised him. "It was their highest finish in a long time," he said. "They barely missed finals." The Miners trailed Bear River throughout much of the semi-final match but fought back to tie the game by the final buzzer. Bear River held on, however, topping the Miners 8-7 in overtime. A final duel for third place with Canyon View, whom the Miners had defeated three times this year, ended in a disappointing loss, 3-7. Captain Laura Steckbauer and sophomores Jacki Sitco and Samantha Case received 2nd Team All-State honors.
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