The Park City girls soccer team’s season came to an end following its 3-2 loss to Skyline in the second round of the UHSAA 5A state tournament
It wasn’t the way Micaela Carriel wanted the Park City girls soccer season to end. And she’s good with that.
A 3-2 loss to No. 5 Skyline in the second round of the UHSAA 5A state playoffs prematurely ended what the team’s coach still thought was a special season for the Miners. All you have to do is talk to Carriel to understand that.
“It was a phenomenal game and the girls played to their absolute full potential, it was such a tangible representation of their character as athletes and young women,” Carriel said. “Once you get to the playoffs, every team will end the season with a loss except one, and we just happened to be one of those teams with a loss. … But in no way does it diminish what we’ve accomplished on, and especially off, the field this year.”
All season long, Carriel preached focus to her team. The Miners embodied that sentiment Tuesday afternoon when facing Skyline as a massive underdog.
A controversial foul led to an Eagles free kick for a 1-0 lead over the Miners. But rather than sulk about the call, Park City picked itself up and responded five minutes later to tie it up.
A momentary lapse on the defensive end put Skyline up 2-1 but once again, the Miners responded instantly. Senior defender Bella Criscione won a header in the air, sending it to senior forward Stephanie Burnham, who turned around and blasted a shot into the top corner to tie the game 2-2 at the break.
“Stephanie played outside of her mind in the game, like, by far the best she played all year,” Carriel said. “We were feeling really good about where we were at for the half because we felt we were controlling and dominating the pace. The ball was in our half a lot but we were the ones dictating the play so we were good with that.”
Carriel said that despite being outscored in it, the second half was the Miners’ best 40 minutes of soccer all season.
Skyline, a team that excels on set pieces, pressured for nearly the entire second half, at one point getting five corner kicks over a span of six minutes. But the Miners defense refused to wilt until they allowed a goal at the end of the game.
“Emersyn was as solid as I’ve ever seen her in goal, just playing outside of her mind and refusing to back down,” Carriel said of her goalkeeper Emersyn Abraham. “After they scored, the girls responded right away and immediately got a few shots on goal, a few of which I thought were going in. But most importantly, they never gave up and continued to fight until the last second of the game.”
The game against Skyline was a microcosm of the Miners’ season.
Jumping up to class 5A and facing rival Wasatch in the third game of the season, Park City had no time to adjust to the higher level of competition. A three-game winning streak in a third of the way into the season appeared to show the Miners turning the corner, but that was followed by three losses in the next four games.
With its postseason hopes in doubt, Park City rallied by winning three of four to close the regular season and make the state playoffs as the No. 12 seed. The Miners then defeated Bountiful 3-1 in the first round, before nearly pulling the upset on Tuesday.
“I’ve honestly never been so proud of a team I’ve coached, and although I know we didn’t win, I told the girls that it’s not about the winning or losing in the end,” Carriel said. “I fully believed we’d get to this point, I had faith the girls would believe in themselves and what they were capable of to reach that potential. They pushed every day and we have no regrets. … If you lose with no regrets, it’s a loss you can be okay with.”
Even after the season ended, Carriel was reminded of the girls’ strength and mindset on the bus ride home.
While most teams would be sad and disappointed with the loss, reliving the game and wondering what they could’ve done different in such a close affair, the Miners players had a different take on the whole thing.
“One of the best things that happened all season was on the bus ride home, when I told them you can be sad that the season is over but you can’t be sad with your effort or how the season went,” Carriel said. “I told them I’d let them be sad until we got to Chick-Fil-A, a few miles away. … But before we even got there, the girls were smiling, laughing and playing music. That maturity to accept the truth at their age shows how much growth they’ve done as young women and really, that’s what it’s all about.”
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Nine local athletes recently signed their national letters of intent to continue their respective athletic careers in college. Five of the athletes are going to college to play lacrosse, while eight of the nine have signed on to Division-One programs.