PCHS boys’ soccer falls in season opener
The Park City High School boys’ soccer team’s season got off to a rocky start on Wednesday afternoon. Hosting former region foe Judge Memorial, the Miners went down 2-1 at halftime before tying it up in the second half.
However, by the time the final whistle blew, Judge had earned a 3-2 victory over Park City. Coach Tom Merchant said the Bulldogs were able to best the Miners by taking advantage of their late-game opportunities.
"We traded penalty kicks late in the game," he said. "They made theirs and we missed ours."
Despite the loss, Merchant said there were plenty of encouraging signs on Wednesday.
"I hate losing, but I was pleased with the heart the guys showed in the game," he said. "We went down early and we didn’t mark them well. We fixed that the rest of the game, though, and that wasn’t much of a problem."
The Miners scored in the first half on a goal by Jacob Montiel, assisted by Greg Shagen. In the second half, it was Shagen’s turn to score, this time on an assist from Matt Gregory.
Though Park City missed its chance to even the score on a PK, Merchant said that part of the game will improve as the season goes on.
"It’s so early in the season," he said. "They played this game after seven days of being together, three of which were full tryouts. We hadn’t gone through set pieces or practiced penalty kicks. It’s something we can work on now and learn from."
The Miners had plenty of new players earning big minutes on Wednesday. Merchant said the starting lineup has yet to be decided, so this year’s early games will be important. He highlighted the play of new goalie Grayson McCall and midfielder Forrest Kunz.
"[McCall] did a nice job and had a great parry in the second half that he sent over the goal that kept us in it for a while," he said. "[Kunz] came in as a holding midfielder and had a very strong game."
Merchant said the Miners will also use the early-season games to figure out which formation fits their players best.
"We’re in the initial stages and I’d be surprised if we stayed with it, but we played a 4-4-2 the other day," he said.
Moving forward, Merchant said he’ll be more concerned with seeing improvement in the Miners’ teamwork than he is with what formation they’ll play. He wants to see more ball movement in the upcoming games.
"We need to move the ball more quickly than we were Wednesday," he said. "We have several artists on the field, which is nice, but to win we’re going to need to work as a group. They’re starting to buy into the system, though, so as the season progresses, they should improve."
On Friday (after this issue went to press), the Miners hosted rival Wasatch. Merchant said he was hoping to see a lot from his young squad in that matchup against a tough 4A school.
"I’m hoping we can build on what we started [Wednesday] with the teamwork we had that was good," he said. "Wasatch is going to be a handful."
Park City returns to the field on Monday at Juan Diego. The Miners’ next home game is scheduled for March 22 at 3:30 p.m. against Bear River.
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