PCHS boys’ soccer earns first win of the season
The start to the season has been rough for the Park City High School boys’ soccer team. In their first seven games, the Miners went 0-7 and were outscored 26-7.
On Friday afternoon at Dozier Field, though, their fortunes began to turn. After battling to a 0-0 draw at halftime, the Miners came out in the second half with a vengeance.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Kailer Spangenberg slipped a through-ball past the Union defense to Matt Gregory, who beat the Cougars’ goalkeeper and put Park City ahead 1-0. Three minutes later, Spangenberg found the back of the net himself, racing past several Cougars to give the Miners a 2-0 advantage.
Union wasn’t able to muster many scoring chances against the Park City defense. The shots the Cougars did take were scooped up by goalie Andrew Guthery as the Miners held on for the victory.
Park City Coach Tom Merchant said recently the Miners have been showing signs of turning things around and the results on Friday confirmed that.
"I think they knew they could do it," he said. "But when they actually accomplish it, it’s good. Some of the things they learn are how to beat an opponent. Different opponents show you different things and what you can do."
The Cougars’ defense tried to trap the Miner forwards in offside positions, leaving themselves vulnerable to well-placed through-balls. Merchant said the Miners started taking advantage of the Union strategy after halftime.
"They knew [what Union was doing] in their heads, but they didn’t produce on it right away," he said. "Once they figured out what the game was, it became much easier. We talked about it at halftime. Before every game, we play a game that’s very focused on through-balls. You don’t have to smash it and you can’t be offside, but if you put through-balls through [the defense] I’ll take footraces all day long. Then, if you win two or three, the score is good."
Park City had opportunities to score several more goals, but Merchant said Union’s goalie stifled almost every chance the Miners got.
"Their keeper was fantastic today," he said. "Without that great keeping, the score would have been a lot different."
Union’s best scoring chance came in the first half when a ball got by Guthery. The shot was disallowed, though, due to a penalty. Other than that early slipup, Merchant said Guthery played a good game and kept himself firmly in the Miners’ goalie rotation along with Grayson McCall.
"We go back and forth trying to figure out who’s going to be the guy," Merchant said. "The first [Union shot], that luckily didn’t count, was a straightforward keeper error. We like to avoid those, but he understands it and they’re all learning. You don’t learn by being perfect — you do it by making mistakes and correcting them."
The biggest correction the Miners made on Friday came on the defensive end. Merchant said the Park City back line did a much better job keeping the ball out of areas where Union could easily score.
"We need to learn that there are times when the ball needs to be cleared out," he said. "Because they’re so technically sound, they want to pass the ball around, but there are times when that’s not a wise decision. We can handle things at midfield if we can move the ball out of trouble areas."
Park City (1-7 overall, 1-1 in Region 10) will host Stansbury on Friday afternoon. After losing 3-0 at Grantsville last week in the region opener, Merchant said Friday’s win was a big confidence booster, but there’s still room for improvement.
"We still have a long way to go," he said. "I don’t know that this [Union] team wasn’t as good as Grantsville was the other day where we lost and there was no reason for us to. But it’s a learning thing — we’ll get there."
Park City’s game against Stansbury on Friday is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. at Dozier Field.
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