Miners soccer defeats Stallions in overtime repeat
Park City Senior left back Johnny Flitton could hear his teammate, senior striker Dylan Ehman, calling for sophomore right back Jack Skidmore to find Flitton’s head, as Flitton made a diagonal run across Dozier Field toward Stansbury’s net in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Stallions on Monday.
It was something of a set-piece for the Miners, if a rare one, so when Flitton saw Skidmore loft the ball toward him, he almost knew he would send it past Stansbury goalkeeper Parker Shelley into the net, putting the Miners back on solid ground after chasing since late in the first half.
“Ever since I was little I’ve been the header guy,” Flitton said. “I was kind of ready for it to happen. I don’t know why. I just have this luck when it comes to goals like that.”
It gave the Miners the footing they needed to win the rematch.
For the Miners, the 1-1 scoreline with five minutes left on the clock was familiar ground. They had mulled over that particular patch of parity several times in matches during the season, and so have most other Region 11 teams.
No team has asserted dominance over Region 11, even No. 1 Ogden, which has played four matches into overtime this year, including one against Park City (a 2-1 win). Ogden’s single loss comes from No. 3 Ben Lomond, which has an overall record of 6-4 and a Region record of 2-1.
In Region 11, the only matches that have resulted in a raw goal differential of more than 1 involve the bottom two teams in the Region – Tooele and Juan Diego. All of the other matches have been settled by a single goal.
Before Monday’s match, the Miners were ranked fifth, with an overall record of 3-4-2 (now 4-4-2). Most of their matches had been close, with three of the non-tie matches going to overtime, including both matches against the Stallions and one against Ogden.
In fact, Monday’s match was a spell of déjà vu for the Miners, Flitton said, which junior forward George Pineda brought together with an elegantly tapped in goal during the first round of golden-goal minutes to win the match.
His teammate, junior right wing Frank Giaccio had teed Pineda up with a driven cross that could have painted a straight line across the field just outside the six-yard line.
“We did this to them on their home field,” Flitton said. “Exactly the same.”
Stansbury, the No. 2 team in the region, hosted the Miners in Stansbury Park on April 1, and the Miners had beaten them 2-1 in overtime then, too, with the same scoring order – Stansbury first, then Park City twice.
Flitton said one difference on Monday was that the Miners were hungrier.
Before the match, coach Tom Merchant had given his team the rundown.
They were 1-2 in region after losing to Bonneville and Ogden.
Dropping a Region 11 match to a team they had beaten was out of the question, especially if the team wanted to see the playoffs.
“The pressure is kind of on,” Flitton said.
Stansbury was the first rematch of the season as the Miners begin the rest of its round robin slate.
“If we win our way out, we’ll be fine, and we are good enough to do that,” Merchant said.
After all, they did beat the No. 2 team twice, and taken the No. 1 team to overtime.
The tricky part, of course, is executing.
The Miners didn’t dominate the first half of Monday’s match. They didn’t muster a threatening shot on goal until early in the second half, when Skidmore forced a saved from Shelley through a free kick drawn by Pineda.
All told, the Miners finished the match with seven shots on goal, compared to Stansbury’s six, which belies how close the Stallions were to walking away with the match. The Stallions earned their lone goal with 14 minutes left in the first half, when sophomore midfielder Dante Silverman received the ball outside the 18-yard box and gave senior striker Brandon Bustillos a short lateral pass. Bustillos took one touch to put the ball onto his right foot, then swatted. It deflected off a Miners defender and wrongfooted goalkeeper Aiden O’Brien to find the back of the net. They also forced two solid saves from O’Brien early in overtime.
Merchant said the victory was a result of growing self-confidence – something the fifth-place team will need more of as it struggles for a playoff berth.
“They need to have faith in themselves, and they need to battle through these matches, which are going to be difficult,” Merchant said. “It becomes as much a mental struggle as a physical struggle – having faith in themselves, having faith in each other and what is going to work for them so they can see the progress that they are making.”
Up next, Miners will travel to Tooele on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
The Buffaloes are winless, but Flitton said the Miners aren’t underestimating them.
“Gotta be careful with them,” he said. “We always have trouble with them. Not playing wise, just physically, aggression and stuff like that.”
Flitton has two red cards this season, the most recent he drew against Tooele. Another would put him out of the season, per UHSAA rules.
“We are notorious for being pretty dirty with each other,” he said. “Going into this next match, it’s trying to stay safe.”
Merchant said he sometimes sends Flitton up to left wing or out front to keep opponents off balance as they deal with Pineda, but the two also have a deal. If Flitton picks up another yellow, he sits the rest of the match and possibly the next one until his status resets.
They don’t want to feel a déjà vu of the 3-1 win over Tooele this Wednesday – just a W.
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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.