PCHS soccer sneaks by Bears in playoffs
After winning Region 10 and earning a home playoff game last season, the Park City High School girls’ soccer team fell 2-1 to Cedar in the first round of the 3A tournament.
This year, the Miners again won Region 10 and earned a first-round home playoff game, this time against the Bear River Bears.
The weight of last year’s loss was on the Miners’ minds early on, as they struggled to get any rhythm going against a surprisingly tough Bears squad. After entering halftime in a scoreless tie, though, Park City finally found the back of the net early in the second half and held on for a 1-0 win.
Park City Coach Chip Cook said the Miners definitely played nervously early in the game, but got in a groove in the second half.
"We stressed that the playoffs are a whole different story," she said. "Every team knows it’s the end of their season if they don’t come out with a win. It was definitely stressful and we didn’t know what to expect from these guys. We played a little bit nervy at times and were a little impatient. When we possessed the ball, passed it around and controlled the pace of the game, though, we dominated."
Cook said the Miners were tense after seeing several good scoring chances miss the net or get scooped up by the Bear River goalie in the first half.
"We got into a little bit of a panic mode at halftime and we could see people’s body language was a little bit stressed," she said. "We identified some areas we needed to work on and recognized we knew what we had to do and how to fix it. We said, ‘We have 40 minutes to go out and win this thing, so let’s go win it.’"
The Miners did just that. Shortly after the intermission, a shot by Julia Morelli hit the crossbar and bounced away from the goal. It was possessed by Park City and Evie Edwards gathered it out wide. After dribbling toward the corner, she found Jessica DiCaprio in the box and DiCaprio sent a high, arcing shot over the Bear River keeper and into the back of the net to give Park City the lead.
"We need to do that a little more," Cook said. "Evie was very composed. She took a touch and Jess moved into the exact right space and opened up perfectly. The weight of the pass to Jess was just perfect so that she could take a good shot with it. The whole play was just executed perfectly."
A 1-0 lead is anything but comfortable in soccer, so the Miners weren’t out of the woods just yet. However, despite a couple good opportunities for Bear River, Park City goalie Hannah Gardner and the Miners’ defense held up and preserved the shutout.
"[Hannah]’s been solid for us all year," Cook said. "We love having her back there, not only for her goalkeeping skills but for her leadership skills. She’s doing her part. [The Park City players] want to play well for her, too, because she’s playing so well for them."
By winning, the Miners (10-6-1 overall) now get another home playoff game. They’ll be eager to make amends for last year’s opening-round loss as they’ll host Cedar (12-5) on Saturday. Cook said it’s going to take a better effort than Wednesday’s to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
"I hope we are better at winning those 50-50 balls and anticipating," she said. "I felt like we were a little flat-footed today, which could have been the nerves. We want to be calm, but not complacent. They’re working toward that mental side of the game. I don’t think today was our best game, but we came out with a gritty win and that’s what you need sometimes."
Saturday’s game against Cedar is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at the North 40 fields in Park City.