Miners overcome scare from Bulldogs
Heading into overtime with the score tied at two against the Judge Memorial Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon at Dozier Field, Park City head coach Jesse Blais gathered his team to deliver a message.
His message was simple – he wanted the Miners to play the way he knew they were capable of playing. If they didn’t, he said in the huddle, their chance to win a Region 10 title would take a major hit.
The Miners took that message to heart. Right from the start of the 10-minute overtime period, Park City dominated possession of the ball, eventually setting up Gunner Stray-Gundersen with the chance to be the hero.
He didn’t disappoint, knocking the ball past the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper for the third time on the afternoon, giving the Miners a much-needed 3-2 overtime win.
Park City (7-2-1 overall, 4-1 in Region 10) couldn’t afford a loss to Judge if it wants to challenge an undefeated Wasatch team for the region crown.
Gundersen said the speech from his coach gave him an extra boost in the overtime period.
"It really pumped us up," he said. "(Blais) said, ‘It’s either this game, or you lose the whole season.’ I said, ‘We gotta go.’ You’ve got to step up to the plate and rise to the occasion."
After an early goal off a penalty kick gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game, Gundersen got the scoring going for Park City.
Taking a pass from Alejandro Vieyra about seven minutes into the first half, Gundersen sent a rocket past the Judge keeper to tie the score.
Then, with 16:10 remaining in the half, Gundersen scored his second goal, charging at the goalie and heading the ball into the net before colliding with both the keeper and a Judge defender.
"Sometimes you’ve just got to go up there and see what happens," he said. "You can’t be afraid."
Gundersen sat out the next few minutes to recover from the collision, but said he’d do it all again if he had to.
"It worked out for me," he said. "It was worth it."
But the Bulldogs scored again five minutes into the second half, a goal that would eventually force overtime and lead to Blais’s talk with his team.
"It shouldn’t have had to come down to that in the first place," Blais said.
He added that the weather may have played a factor in the Miners’ sluggishness.
"Coming off of such a high week last week, with two good wins, and then having this storm come through and put us back two days took a little bit more of a toll than I thought it would," he said.
He said the team will need to refocus ahead of Wednesday’s game at Uintah (4-7, 0-2 Region 10).
"We just need to get back to the grind, get back on the field and figure things out again," he said. "We need to tighten up our defense and find some different offensive weapons."
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.