’Four-peat:’ Miners cruise to another title
Seniors finish prep careers with four state championships
Winning a state championship can be a special moment in a high school athlete’s life. It’s a rare feat, as many who compete in athletics during their prep careers never get to taste what clinching a title feels like.
But what if one never knew life without winning a state championship? Seniors on the Park City High School girls’ lacrosse team have only experienced success in their time as Miners. The team defeated Herriman 16-8 in the Utah High School Lacrosse League Division-1 State Championship on Saturday at Alta High School for its fourth consecutive title.
“I felt accomplished and so proud to be able to be on such an incredible team,” Park City senior Jeni Gordon said. “It was so hard to believe we had [won state] again. I had to give it time to sink it.”
Leading the way for the Miners was Ellie Faulk, who was also the game’s MVP. She finished with four goals, while Lois Garlow finished with three. Parker Seifert, Gabby Nixon and Gordon finished with two goals each, while Lauren Pederson, Brianna Bauman and Tillie Mintz rounded out the scoring with a goal each.
By winning its fourth-straight championship, Park City has joined an exclusive club as only the third program in Utah history to do so. With how the game has improved in recent years, this was no easy feat, Head Coach Kassandra Lemons said.
“It’s only getting harder,” she said. “As the game progresses and grows, for us to have four state championship titles in that time is insane because the sport has only gotten that much better. It’s a cool feeling.”
It wasn’t so much that Park City was able to secure yet another trophy, but rather the way it did it. The team finished with an unblemished record against teams from Utah, going 15-0 against such squads. Most of those wins were in dominant fashion, as the Miners averaged 16.73 goals per game, while giving up just 3.93 to opponents.
But it’s closest game of the season — a narrow 8-7 state semifinal victory over American Fork that required a game-winning goal with seven seconds left to advance — almost derailed what the Miners built upon since Day 1. Though they ended up taking care of business, Lemons said the semifinal win re-motivated the young squad.
“I think it was a great eye-opener for us to get to the State Championship game and remember what our goal is,” Lemons said. “We have to be successful together or we can’t be successful at all. It was a real doozy to have to put it in the last seven seconds of the game to determine our fate. But they did it, which was a big lesson.”
Teaching lessons has been what Lemons and the coaching staff at Park City are all about. The head coach admittedly doesn’t like to lose, which showed during the Miners’ impressive run through in-state opponents, but there’s also more to teach than how to score a goal or run a certain formation.
“I have been lucky to be able to play for such amazing coaches,” Gordon said. “They know when to buckle down and get work done, but they also know when it’s time to have fun and goof off. … They taught us how to balance our competitive nature, but not let it over take our nerves. Not only are they great coaches but they are great people who have helped shape me into the person I am.”
Now that another season, and another championship, has come and gone, the Park City program aims to continue to get better in the offseason. Lemons, who is grateful for the support received from the lacrosse community in Park City, predicts the rest of the state’s teams will continue their efforts to catch the Miners, as well.
“I think each year [our program] gets better,” Lemons said. “The challenge will only get more competitive. The games won’t be as big of goal differentials and that’s kind of what we want as a program, as well. We don’t want to walk away from games winning 25-0. We want competitions and I think both Park City and the state of Utah is going in that direction, which is really exciting.”
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The Youth Sport Alliance is planning on expanding its program through the rest of the county, and, depending on a grant from the Women’s Giving Fund, adding two part-time positions.