Park City ready for 5A state playoffs, begin with a home match on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Following a 4-1 loss to Maple Mountain on Sept. 19, the Park City High School girls soccer team was in danger of missing out on the upcoming state playoffs. Sitting at 5-4-1 in Region 8 and 6-5-1 overall, the Miners were going to need to win three of their final four games, according to coach Micaela Carriel.
Fast forward to the present and Park City did exactly what it needed to do, with three wins and one loss to undefeated Region 8 champion Springville to close the season. The Miners defeated Salem Hills 3-1, Payson 5-0, and Spanish Fork 3-0 before losing the season finale 3-0 to Springville.
“We lost the last game of the year, but more importantly we won the three before that so now we feel good about where we are at,” Carriel said. “Springville was undefeated and the region champion, so although you never want to lose, we were okay losing that game. This loss was the necessary kick we needed going into the playoffs.”
After being upset 2-0 by Lehi in the first round of last year’s Class 4A playoffs, the Miners are ready to officially put the past behind by hosting their first round game against an opponent to be determined at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Stadium Field at the Park City Ice Arena. Carriel is trying to get the Park City marching band and cheerleaders to attend, as well as a food truck to provide the help aid in the hopefully electric-atmosphere she’s looking for.
Despite the three-game winning streak near the end of the season, Carriel believes the loss to Springville was as equally important. It served two separate purposes for the rest of the Miners season as it not only showed the girls how far they’ve come since the first time they played Springville, the only undefeated team in 5A, but it showed that there is still work to be done.
In early September, Springville dealt Park City a 4-1 loss, but it was the manner in which the Miners lost had Carriel concerned about the team’s future. A month later, Park City lost 3-0 in the rematch against the Red Devils, but this match was much more competitive and had Carriel excited about their prospects in the playoffs.
“That last game really opened up the girls’ eyes to how much growth they’ve done over the course of the season, both mentally and physically,” Carriel said. “Even though we lost, we definitely weren’t the same team that played Springville earlier in the season so that was a positive. The girls are now confident that they can win, which is a much if they are to be the team they know they can be.”
After finishing the regular season 9-6-1 and 8-5-1 in Region 8, Carriel and her girls believe that not only are they peaking at the right time, but they still feel fresh and ready to go.
“Our preseason workouts were really intense and difficult, but I truly think we are seeing the benefits of that because we feel amazing,” said Coral Crossland, senior captain. “We aren’t tired at all and we feel ready to go for the end of the season. I think us being in as good of shape we are, we aren’t worried about anything and just can’t wait to keep going.”
Carriel echoed similar sentiments, believing that the rigorous preseason training regimen the Miners went through was designed exactly for this moment.
“Everything the girls went through earlier in the season was for this time because our team is now on the upswing,” Carriel said. “Teams exhibit poor character, which usually happens when they’re tired or sick of each other, and that isn’t happening to us. We genuinely like each other, get along and are positive with one another… And now we see the advantages of working so hard over the regular season to implement the culture that changes outcomes for you later on.”
Carriel also spoke about the mentality change the team has gone through over the course of the season, and how a simple change led to the late winning streak and jump into the playoffs. According to her, the self-confidence of the individual players has risen to the point where they are no longer afraid of letting down their teammates.
“The team responds really well from outside motivation, and now their mindsets have changed to the point where they not only believe in one another, they believe in themselves,” Carriel said. “Earlier, they weren’t seeing what they were individually bringing to the table. … But since we are a true team and not one of individuals, the girls started to believe in themselves as part of the team and a contributor. And with that, we have now turned the corner.”
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Park City plays in the toughest region in 5A, and coach Purcell believes that mental toughness will help turn the season around.