Miners look to use speed in 2017 | ParkRecord.com

Miners look to use speed in 2017

PCHS hoping to avoid repeat of last season’s start

Park City High Schools Matt Gregory makes a move around a Stansbury defender during a game last season. The Miners start their season on March 8 against Lone Peak.

The Park City High School boys' soccer team didn't have the most ideal start to the 2016 season. The Miners lost their first seven games of the campaign, only to finish the season strong by winning five of their final eight games.

A lot of this was due to the newer players that occupied Park City's roster, Head Coach Tom Merchant said. But with many of the same players from last year's team returning, Merchant is confident the 2017 season will start off on a more positive note.

"It's fun to watch [the players] mature," Merchant said. "The experience really helps, but I think the personal growth in these guys is really starting to show. They all play high-level club ball and I can see their maturity level growing. It's going to be very exciting."

Right now, Merchant is currently working through a tryout process, in which 66 PCHS athletes are participating. The coaching staff does have a vision of who will play in certain positions, but these tryouts help mold the lineup that will do the most damage for the season in Region 10.

"It's busy at the moment," Merchant said. "We're going to be looking again [on Thursday] to try and see what's going to fit the best. But it's a really talented group of kids."

No matter who will be featured in any certain lineup, there's one thing that Merchant and company want to stress to their players heading into the year: speed.

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Having speed is an important skill in any sport, but especially soccer. It allows teams to run more through-balls on offense and cover more ground on defense. In turn, speed could lead to bigger plays and, potentially, more opportunities to score.

"We're going to be playing faster and faster this year," Merchant said. "I think that's going to be our focus all year."

In addition to working up the players' conditioning and speed, Merchant hopes to see his team come together as a unit, something that last year's team struggled to do until it was too late in the year.

"Last year, we didn’t' really mesh as well as we could have," he said. "It's a growing process that way, too. People are coming from different spots and learning to play as a group. That takes maturity. That's what I'm seeing in the group. We still have a long way to go, but it's fun to watch."

Typically, Region 10 isn't the strongest 3A group in the state. Even so, the Miners know they have some work to do if they want to finish on top. Both Stansbury and Grantsville finished ahead of Park City in the region standings last season, and with neither of them losing much in terms of firepower in-between seasons, the Miners have their work cut out for them.

But Merchant isn't eyeing just the region; he's looking at the rest of 3A, as well.

"I think our group is really ready to take on everybody in the state, but it's going to be a process," Merchant said. "If they keep on the direction they're going right now, I'm looking for big things."

Park City opens up its season on Wednesday against Lone Peak High School in a tournament at Mountain View High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.