Miners senior Ross DiCaprio scores overtime goal against Snow Canyon to put team in state semifinals
The Park City Miners boys soccer team has won the first two rounds of the Class 4A state playoffs, putting them through to the semifinals against rival Juan Diego Catholic High School at Judge Memorial Catholic High School this Thursday.
To get there, the Miners rolled the Bear River Bears 4-0 last Thursday, going up within the first 6 minutes of the game, ending the first half 3-0, and securing its position with a fourth goal two minutes into the second half.
On Saturday, the Miners played the undefeated Snow Canyon Warriors on neutral ground in St. George. Tom Merchant, the Miners’ boys varsity head coach, said the Miners’ bench was the difference between a win and a loss.
“It was really hot on the field, so having plenty of people able to come in as the game went on really helped us,” Merchant said.
According to the coach, it was over 90 degrees on the turf field, which had turned “almost as black as it was green” through years of use.
Merchant said the Warriors had the better first half, and their control of the game forced the Miners to switch formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, giving them another player to pass to in the midfield.
“That changed the feel of the game,” Merchant said.
But the two teams remained scoreless, putting the game into overtime, when fresh players off the Miners’ bench started to sway the direction of the game.
“When we got into overtime it was all us,” Merchant said. “It seemed like they were playing for the penalty kick shootout and we were playing to win.”
With 2:30 left on the clock, Max Duffner put the ball into play in front of the Warriors’ goal and senior midfielder Ross DiCaprio, who hadn’t scored all season, banged it in at close range. The game ended immediately due to the golden goal rule, where play stops as soon as a goal is scored, allowing players to swarm DiCaprio and hoist him onto their shoulders.
“It was spectacular,” Merchant said. “It was a neat high school experience for any kid.”
Merchant added that the team had been practicing shooting all week.
“He was just the man for the job,” the coach said.
Up to that point, Snow Canyon was the team to beat. The Warriors had defeated both of the teams now on the opposite side of the semifinal bracket (Desert Hills and Dixie), leaving the Miners as the new leader.
The win over Snow Canyon also meant the Miners will face Juan Diego, a familiar rival. The Miners have played the Soaring Eagle twice this season and have won both games by a single goal.
Merchant described both games as “hard fought battles.”
“I was pleased with the result, but it was never an easy match,” he said.
Merchant said beating any team three times in a row is a challenge, especially Juan Diego, which knocked out the Miners in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs last season.
Merchant said the team will have to watch Juan Diego’s No. 10, senior forward, Jared Mariani, closely. Mariani has scored all three of Juan Diego’s goals against the Miners this season.
“It’s not something you can say ‘It’s going to be an easy game,’” Merchant said. “They are perpetually a very good team, so we will have to be our very best to match up with them.”
The Miners will play Juan Diego Thursday night at 3 p.m. at Judge Memorial.
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