PCHS boys’ soccer: Park City slips past Rowland Hall
SALT LAKE CITY — Playing their fourth game in five days, down four varsity regulars and watching the ball bounce at the mercy of a snow-soaked field, the Park City Miners simply made due.
Facing 2A powerhouse Rowland Hall on the road Monday afternoon, Park City left Salt Lake City with a 1-0 win over the Winged Lions. After a lackluster first half, senior forward Keenan McCall made sure the final score wouldn’t read zeroes across the board after he took the opening kick off and dribbled downfield, shouldering off a Rowland Hall defender before finding space and blasting a 20-yard strike into the upper corner of the net.
"I just thought in the first half we weren’t doing too well, so we just had to put the pressure on in the beginning of the second half," he said. "It worked out for us."
Asked if he’d ever scored a goal like that in his soccer career, the senior forward laughed.
"I didn’t really expect it," McCall said. "It pretty much just happened."
The win Monday improved the Miners’ preseason record to 3-1 under first-year head coach Jesse Blais. Following a three-game trip to southern Utah over the weekend, Park City lost to Desert Hills 3-0, but edged Snow Canyon 1-0 on a goal by junior Alejandro Viejra.
But being able to move past Rowland Hall on the road is a good sign for the Miners, Blais said Monday.
"(Rowland Hall) definitely has some very talented players on their team," he said. "They’re hard to contain, and our goalie made some great stops.
"We were a little undermanned, even though I still have an army of guys."
Park City missed varsity regulars Matt Stevens, Joey Goodwin, Brad Mulick and others due to various injuries and illnesses picked up over the weekend.
And it showed in the first half.
The Miners had an impressive first five minutes of the game, but had trouble connecting on passes throughout the rest of the first half. Rowland Hall used its speed up front to try and counter Park City’s possession-oriented attack, but the Miners’ backline held strong.
Once halftime rolled around, Blais said he let his team have it.
"We started really slow," he said. "I had to light a huge fire under these guys to get them going.
"I told them that if they weren’t going to perform, I’m going to switch them out."
McCall’s goal seconds into the second half proved to be the ultimate difference-maker, but Park City had other standouts, including winger Garrett Bullough, sweeper Ramesses Florian, midfielder Michael Capone and freshman goalkeeper Domonic Croce.
"The guys I wanted to see that I haven’t seen came out and helped finish out a shutout for us," Blais said.
McCall said the provisional lineup was difficult to deal with at first, but said this year’s team is close enough to overcome those kinds of problems on the field.
"I like the environment," he said. "It’s going pretty well. We’re all pretty good friends, so it’s working out well.
"The main thing we have to do is keep possession and talking (on the field)."
Playing on a furrowed, soggy field is something Blais wants his team to get used to, considering they’ll be playing on those types of fields once Region 10 play rolls around. Next week the Miners travel to Vernal to face Uintah on March 14.
"It took us 20 minutes to complete three passes today," he said. "That can’t happen, even on a bumpy field. This is what the preseason should do for us."
McCall said he’s excited to jump into region play and that Park City will use its nine days off to regroup as a team and get as healthy as possible for the matches that count.
"I think we’ll be all right," he said. "It’ll be a good test."
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