PCHS boys’ lacrosse moves on to quarters
They can’t be reprinted here, but whatever words Park City High School lacrosse head coach Ryan Sheaffer had for his team at the half Wednesday, they certainly sunk in.
The Miners had struggled to find the net during the first two quarters of an 8-1 win in the first round of the Division I state playoffs, leading just 1-0 at the break. In less than 10 minutes after the restart, they poured in six unanswered goals with nary a touch going to their opponents.
"We went into the huddle and we got fired up," said senior Matt Mersereau. "Our coach gave us a good speech and we kind of realized that if we lost, we’re never coming out here to play again."
Junior Griffin Perkiel scored four times, senior defenseman David O’Day was omnipresent around the Miners’ net, and sophomore goalkeeper Peter Hoburg made multiple stops in his first taste of postseason play. Still, they couldn’t rest easy until midway through the third quarter.
"Tale of two halves, for sure," Sheaffer said. "For whatever reason, offensively in the first half, they were just giving us problems. We weren’t quite running things the way we should. We got them calmed down at halftime and came out and looked outstanding in the second half."
After winning the opening faceoff and controlling much of the early action, PCHS peppered the opposing end throughout the first, while O’Day twice prevented an odd-man counterattack with a slick ground ball near midfield.
The Miners broke the deadlock with 5:53 left in the second quarter. Perkiel intercepted a pass at midfield, raced to split two defenders and beat the goalkeeper with a high shot to take a 1-0 lead and reassure the Dozier Field faithful.
Park City’s coaching staff decided that the formations they were running weren’t putting enough pressure on the Weber defense, so they decided at half to switch to a "run-and-gun" style of offense.
"We wanted to play like ourselves," Perkiel said. "We just let loose and ran by people."
It didn’t take long for the change to have an impact. Mersereau got the scoring started for the Miners within the first minute, and senior Sam Sisk followed a Dillon Dutkanych rebound shot for a 3-0 lead soon after.
In tune with each other and showing obvious confidence, it wasn’t a minute later before Mersereau found Perkiel for an alley-oop finish that left fans looking at each other with a "Did-you-see-that?" expression.
They were hardly finished. Junior Mark West – sent into the game on an offensive advantage – received the ball up top and beat his defender to score on a hard shot just inside the left post, putting the home team up 5-0.
The pace finally slowed somewhat before Dutkanych, a senior who will play with Mersereau at the University of Utah next season, began conducting the attack from behind the net. First, he changed direction and passed it so precisely to Perkiel that he only needed to bring his stick down to score on a one-timer.
Then, with 4:22 left in the merciless third quarter, Dutkanych found Sisk in front with a defender on his side. Sisk jumped, caught the ball and turned to shoot all in one scoring motion, looking nothing like a player who hadn’t picked up a lacrosse stick in two years before this past season.
Hoburg made a kick save at full extension shortly after, but a hard shot from Weber’s Trae Shumway deflected off the stick of senior Alex Scott and left the sophomore moving in the other direction as his shutout was snapped. Beyond that stroke of misfortune, he was locked onto the ball the entire game.
"Peter has played out of his head this year," Sisk said. "He’s playing like a senior, and he’s got two more years, so he’s going to be a great player."
Hoburg made two more kick saves before it was said and done, and Dutkanych hit Perkiel on the left post for his fourth goal of the game in the final quarter.
"I’m so proud of our defense," Sheaffer said. "They’re just playing really well as a unit and playing aggressive, moving well, fast – all that stuff. It’s been really impressive late in the year."
O’Day received the game ball for his efforts marshalling the back four, and his teammates showered him with praise after the game.
"David O’Day is one of the key parts of our team," Sisk said. "He’s definitely the leader of the team by far. He’s the one that gets us motivated when the coaches can’t. He’s the one that runs us, yells at us – he’s a coach on the field and he really does great. And he can clear the ball like no other person in the state."
The Miners will next host their final home game of the season on Saturday, May 8, at Dozier Field, a quarterfinal battle at 10 a.m. against Lone Peak.
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