SANDY — All season long, the Park City Miners have had trouble making the most of their scoring opportunities.
In their 3A semifinal matchup against Desert Hills, however, that wasn't the case.
“We were able to finish our chances — finally,” head coach Jesse Blais said while grinning ear to ear after his team defeated the Thunder, 2-1, Friday afternoon at Jordan High School.
“All season we’ve been trying,” he continued. “Basically, (today) we got a couple early goals and we put a lot of pressure on them early on.”
Opposite of the Miners’ win over Cedar City in the quarterfinals — in which no goals were scored and Park City advanced in a shootout — the first goal Friday arrived just eight minutes in.
Senior Garrett Bullough sent the ball ahead to senior Carl Turner, who secured the pass and then sent the ball into the net from nearly 30 yards out.
“He’s an amazing player,” Blais said of Bullough, who is playing on a strained lateral collateral ligament. “He played that ball to Carl in the beginning, which he scored on. He’s an amazing threat that we have.”
The second goal followed just six minutes later when Will McFarlane converted a penalty kick.
“I was a little worried with the Ben Lomond game and Cedar City,” said Blais said regarding his team’s ability to finish and noting that Park City defeated the Scots 3-2 in the first round of the tournament.
“But looking back on those two games, those teams are so good (and) they helped prepare us for this. They had defenses that were much stronger, so when we were able to take advantage, we did.”
Park City controlled possession through the majority of its semifinal match, missing a handful of scoring attempts, but the Thunder offense kept the Miners on their toes. Midway through the second half, Desert Hills striker Justin Brinkerhoff slipped a shot under a diving Park City goalkeeper Casey Sederman to pull his team within one.
In spite of the score, the senior goalkeeper anchored the Park City defense and pushed his team into the 3A championship matchup.
“Casey Sederman is an amazing human being,” Blais said. “Not only is he one of the smartest kids on the team, but he’s an exceptional soccer player. He saved us a lot. He leads the back and he’s going to do well in whatever he does. And hopefully he has another game like that tomorrow.”
As for the ‘keeper, the best part of winning Friday was gaining the opportunity to play in the final at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
“Just the experience of playing in a big stadium like that with a lot of people watching will be great," he said. "It’s really exciting.”
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: email@example.com