Season for boys’ soccer ends in quarterfinals
The PCHS boys’ soccer team finished with 10-4-1 record
It wasn’t the way the Park City High School boys’ soccer team wanted to end its season.
The Miners had big aspirations for the year, with visions of hoisting up the UHSAA 3A state championship trophy in front of fans at Rio Tinto Stadium by the end of it. After getting through region play without a loss (7-0-1) and garnering the coveted No. 1 seed in the playoffs, it appeared that maybe they were on their way to doing so.
But heavy wind and an upstart Juan Diego team, combined with the fact that it simply wasn’t the Miners’ day, ended Park City’s season a couple weeks early with a 4-0 loss at Dozier Field on Saturday afternoon in the UHSAA 3A state quarterfinals.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Head Coach Tom Merchant said, despite the loss. “I’m sorry for the result. When you get into playoffs, there’s only one team smiling at the end and unfortunately, it’s not us.”
Juan Diego was led by the boot of Ruben Castillo, who, after a scoreless first half on both sides, found the back of the net three times in the second half for a hat trick. Alex Saunders netted the other score for the Soaring Eagle.
Even though the score read 0-0 on the scoreboard at halftime, the Miners knew they were in trouble if they didn’t pick up their play in the second half. With a strong wind against them, the home players struggled to get anything going on the offensive end and were simply just trying to keep Juan Diego from scoring with its suffocating attack.
“We were able to control them [in the first half],” Merchant said. “We were on our heels, but we were able to control them in that first half and we were feeling a little better about ourselves. But it didn’t last for long.”
The second half was where things went downhill for the home team. The desire and the fight to win was present in the Miners, but for some reason, passes that normally connect weren’t and formations that typically produce opportunities were unsuccessful.
After Castillo’s first goal beat Park City’s keeper, the Miners still had plenty of time to recover. They were still in the game even after the second goal, but the urgency grew. Park City knew it had to act quickly if it was going to get back into the game, but the increased intensity was to no avail.
“You get caught trying to catch up,” Merchant said. “It’s a must-win game at that point. You end up pushing and the score isn’t as pretty as you’d like. But it was not for a lack of effort from the guys, because I think they played as hard as they can.”
In the end, the Miners produced a season that most would be proud of — winning Region 10 is nothing to scoff at. Before Saturday’s game, the Miners hadn’t lost a game (only three losses all season before Saturday) by more than a single score.
Though the dreams of hoisting that state trophy never became reality, Merchant believes the group of boys, specifically the departing seniors, have made an impact on the program for years to come.
“In the 18 months I’ve been working with the kids, they’ve come miles and a lot of it is on the back of these [departing] players,” Merchant said. “They understood what we’re trying to do. I think their legacy is going to be very strong in the years coming forward. I hope, as time goes by, that they realize they’ve done a lot to help this program really grow.”
SIDE NOTE: Before advancing to the quarterfinals against Juan Diego, Park City defeated Carbon High School in the first round of the UHSAA 3A state playoffs 8-0 on Thursday afternoon at Dozier Field. Jacob Farnsworth led the way with two goals, while John Flitton, Ethan Foote, Matthew Gregory, Paco Jaurrieta, Forrest Kunz and Kailer Spangenberg all scored to round out the game that was shortened via mercy rule.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.