PCHS boys’ soccer: Miners, Wasps set to clash
March 27, 2012
The numbers are staggering.
Through six matches this season, the Wasatch boys’ soccer team has scored 26 goals while conceding zero. The Wasps, the defending 3A state champions, are 6-0 and considered to be one of the best teams in any class of Utah high school soccer this year.
So, what will happen when Park City travels to take on the Wasps and their high-flying attack in Heber Wednesday afternoon? First-year head coach Jesse Blais says he expects to see fireworks.
"I told my guys we’re not going to shut them out," he said frankly. "But I’ve been in this position before."
Blais said his Miners (4-2) have the talent to hang with the Wasps. During his collegiate playing days at Westminster College, he said recalls his team pulling off some impressive upsets against some high-profile teams.
"There is a strategy that you have to take into a game like this," he said. "I just hope mine works."
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Park City will be asked to slow a Wasatch attack spearheaded by defending 3A MVP Alex Espinoza, who led 3A soccer with 19 goals a year ago. Espinoza is flanked by Domey Espinoza, and the two help set up the goals for target forward Ben Powell, who has 11 goals in six matches this season.
Asked if he thinks his midfielders and defenders have a chance to put the clamps on the Wasatch attack, Blais didn’t play coy.
"All we’re going to do is slow them down," he said. "I’m preparing my guys. We’re not going to sit back and pack the box like so many other teams do against them. We’re going to come straight at them and see how that goes."
Park City will be leaning on captains Michael Capone and Joey Goodwin to help quell what should be the Miners’ most difficult task of the season to date. This will no doubt be a trial-by-fire outing for freshman keeper Domonic Croce, who has excelled as a first-year varsity goalie.
"We need to eliminate our mistakes," Blais said. "If we do win, it’ll be a pretty clear mistake-free game from us. We have the talent and defenders to beat them."
Blais said while the rivalry between Park City and Wasatch was predominately one-sided in Park City’s favor until 2011, he is excited to see how far the rivalry has come and thinks this match could be special. He pointed to the 2008-2009 run when the Miners were the class of 3A soccer and won back-to-back state titles, along with Wasatch’s title run last year.
More than bragging rights, the match will prove vital in determining which team grabs the early upper hand in the Region 10 standings. Both Wasatch and Park City are 2-0 in region play.
"I think they’re beatable," Blais said. "At the end of the day, it’s still soccer. They may be so good, but it’s still soccer. We can beat them.
"The beauty of this matchup for us is my guys know them and they know how they play."
Blais said the outcome will be determined by ball possession: Whoever possesses the ball the most in those 80 minutes will win.
"I’m just going to throw whatever I have at my guys and see what happens," he said. "I told my young guys to be ready. I told my older guys, too, ‘Look everybody plays a role on this team, whether you start or not.’"