PARK CITY — A year ago, the Park City boys soccer team was eliminated from the 3A state tournament in just the first round. With immense soccer tradition, the early exit left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Miners.
“We have a legacy at Park City to go far in the playoffs and fight for every game,” said head coach Jesse Blais, whose program has advanced to at least the semifinals in 17 of the last 21 seasons.
The coach guided his team back to that semifinal mark Saturday afternoon. The Miners earned the berth with a thrilling 6-5 shootout victory over Cedar City in the 3A quarterfinals after the match had finished in a goalless draw.
“I can’t think right now,” Blais said afterward. “I don’t try to read into the scores too much, but looking at who (Cedar) played and how they’ve played them, they are a great team. I knew it was going to be a tough game.”
The Miners and Redmen played to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation and, in spite of multiple narrow misses, neither team could find the back of the net through two overtime periods, either. It even took extra penalty kicks in the shootout to determine a winner. Park City ultimately prevailed 6-5.
“We were having the majority of the chances (but) all season we’ve had a problem finishing,” Blais said, noting multiple shots on goal in the final minutes of the second overtime. “We had our chances. They were just a couple feet outside — and that’s soccer.”
Senior captain Garrett Bullough added that even though the Miners did not score, that build up of momentum made the difference during the shootout.
“We’ve lost so many heartbreakers but we never quit fighting,” he said. “We destroyed them in the overtime here, (but) we couldn’t score and we just carried our work into the penalty kicks.”
Park City goalkeeper Casey Sederman blocked the first Cedar penalty kick, but Brock Shipp, Jeff Rogers, Aaron Heaton, Brenden Angus, and Michael Briano each scored for the Redmen to match the Miners’ goals from Gunner Stray-Gunderson, Will Macfarlene, Giacomo Castellano, Sully Tesch and Brad Mulick.
Jesus Valeriano kicked the final Park City PK and was greeted with a pileup.
Sederman and Cedar goalkeeper Kaeland Osborne each earned their shutout with fantastic play in the net.
Bullough left the game late in the first half, limping off the field with a sore lateral collateral ligament that he strained a week ago. However, the injury will not keep him from celebrating the team’s victory.
“I am going to party so hard on one leg at prom today,” he said.
The Miners will meet Desert Hills at Jordan High on Friday in a 4 p.m. start. The Thunder defeated Juan Diego, 1-0, Saturday.
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
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