PCHS boys’ LAX faces important week at home
Despite losing several seniors from last year’s team and dealing with several players moving out of the district, the Park City High School boys’ lacrosse team started the season with an impressive showing at the Best of the West tournament in Las Vegas.
The Miners went 5-2 in that tournament and reached the finals before losing to Utah rival Brighton, 7-0. Park City then took two weeks off before its first regular-season game on March 15, when it defeated Lone Peak 11-4 on the road.
"It’s been a really interesting year already," Park City Coach Nick Gradinger said. "We graduated an incredible senior class from last year and had an additional four or five starters leave the program. We came into this year knowing we needed to find our identity and knowing it wouldn’t be easy, but the year started off really well at the Best of the West tournament in terms of the kids really surprising our coaching staff."
Now, after an eight day hiatus, the Miners will finally take the field again on Wednesday night. They’ll host Logan on the turf field at Quinn’s Junction for their home opener.
Despite a rash of injuries that has left the Park City squad barely able to hold a full practice, Gradinger said he’s seen some positives from the team so far this year.
The biggest key to the Miners’ success in 2016 will be in-game decision making.
"We’re not a 4,000-kid football powerhouse school," he said. "We have to play the smartest and we have to play the hardest. When we get complacent, we leave ourselves susceptible to teams with more depth."
Hosting both Logan and Alta this week will be tough, Gradinger said, but he’s looking forward to seeing how the Miners handle the adverse conditions.
"We’re going into this week excited about the challenge of playing two really good teams," he said. "[Logan has] some of the most talented kids in the state. They have a handful of kids that are, frankly, phenomenal. We’re going to have our hands full."
Fortunately for Park City, the injuries, transfers and graduations haven’t left the cupboard completely bare. Gradinger said the team will rely on seniors Jackson Burton and Sheridan Buchholz, junior Josh Hales and sophomore Beau Pederson.
"Sheridan, who took a year off last year, has assumed the starting role [at goalie]," Gradinger said. "We’ve got a couple guys who have been out and you can tell that it’s taking a little bit of time getting acclimated back into our system. But Sheridan has been seeing the ball and saving the ball at an incredible rate. We don’t take him for granted."
Burton, who has been one of the best faceoff specialists in the state the past couple of years, will have more responsibility this year.
"Jackson has been a FOGO — a faceoff and get off [the field] guy — but he’s been excited about the prospect of being more involved in the offense," Gradinger said.
He’ll team with Pederson on the attack. As a freshman last year, Pederson proved he has the skill to be one of the best players in the state by the time he graduates from PCHS.
"He has been thrust into an offense where he’s the guy everyone will key on," Gradinger said. "He’s going to have to make plays and be a leader not only in terms of play, but also vocally."
Helping Buchholz on the defensive side of the ball will be Hales, who has been a three-year starter for the Miners.
"He’s one of if not the best defensemen in the state," Gradinger said. "He’s been a first-team all-state guy for us and he’s going to shore up the back."
Those four team leaders will need to be strong this week if the Miners are going to come away with a pair of victories. Gradinger said Park City’s lack of games early this season has it at a disadvantage.
"Both teams we’re playing are going to have five or six games more than us under their belts," he said. "We’re going to be looking for guys to play mistake-free. We have to stick with what we do well. If we do that, we’ll put ourselves in a position to win."
Wednesday night’s game against Logan is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. at the Quinn’s Junction turf field. Friday’s matchup against Alta will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Dozier Field.
PCHS Boys’ LAX Schedule
March 23 — vs. Logan (Quinn’s) — 5:30 p.m.
March 25 — vs. Alta (Dozier) — 5:30 p.m.
March 30 — vs. Corner Canyon (Dozier) — 6:15 p.m.
April 1 — vs. Waterford (Quinn’s) — 5:30 p.m.
April 6 — vs. Skyline (Dozier) — 6:15 p.m.
April 9 — at Palo Verde — 4 p.m.
April 10 — at Coronado Red — 1 p.m.
April 16 — at Corner Canyon — 7:30 p.m.
April 20 — at Juan Diego — 7 p.m.
April 22 — at Bonneville — 7:15 p.m.
April 26 — at Brighton — 7:30 p.m.
April 29 — vs. Olympus (Quinn’s) — 5:30 p.m.
May 2 — at Wasatch — 7:30 p.m.
May 6 — vs. Bingham (Dozier) — 6:15 p.m.
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