Heading into their semifinal matchup with Wasatch, the Park City Miners had outscored their last three opponents 67-0, with two of those three results coming in the Miners’ first two playoff games.
You don’t need to be a statistician or lacrosse analyst to recognize that that’s about as dominant as it gets.
Though it wasn’t able to keep a fourth straight opponent off the scoreboard and score 20-plus goals, Park City proved once again that it’s in a class of its own in an 18-2 semifinal victory over Wasatch Tuesday afternoon at Westminster College.
With the victory, the top-seeded Miners will have a chance to clinch a second consecutive undefeated season against Region 6 foe Olympus, which took home a 12-8 win over Brighton in the later semifinal match to book its spot in the title game.
“We just played Park City lacrosse,” Park City’ head coach Mikki Clayton said. “It was a complete team win from back to front.”
Eight different players got on the scoresheet and six players recorded an assist for the Miners. Lilly Hunt and Charlie Iacobelli led the way with four goals apiece.
Keeper Ava Kimche turned out yet another stellar performance for Park City, notching multiple saves — many of which came on free position shots — to go along with rock-solid distribution that triggered a handful of attacking opportunities for the Miners.
It was a 3-1 game just under 13 minutes in after Wasatch’s Grace Erker scored the goal that ended Park City’s shutout streak, but the Miners responded by scoring 11 unanswered goals to trigger the running clock mercy rule with 21 minutes left in the game.
The Wasps came out of the gates with an aggressive play style that saw Park City score its first five goals from free position opportunities.
Clayton said that her players have the ability to beat teams in whatever way their opponent chooses.
“The girls on our team have a ridiculous lacrosse IQ,” Clayton said. “They’d prepared for this game, they were ready for this game and they’re ready for the next game. They work extremely hard to be that way and I’m really proud of them.”
While they may have the high IQ needed to be dominant, the Miners simply possess an embarrassing amount of riches when it comes to the talent they boast, and that talent was on full display Tuesday.
Though any one of the players on Park City’s squad could potentially be the best player on most of the state’s other teams, Clayton said that they have all taken ownership of their roles in order to ensure the team’s success.
“The girls have learned to love their positions and they love the game,” Clayton said.
“When one girl’s having a down game and another’s having a good day, that person playing better may play more that day, but I think that they’ve learned that it’s a team effort and that’s what they want to play for. They want to play for each other.”
The Titans — who have given Park City its toughest test this season — never trailed in their semifinal victory over Brighton, jumping out to an early 5-1 lead.
Olympus scored many of its goals in quick transition plays after winning a face-off, but took its time down the stretch to kill the clock and see the game out.
Brighton scored four of the game’s last six goals, but it was too little too late for the Bengals, who trailed by as much as six.
Eight different players scored for the Titans, with Eva Thorn, Kate Richards, Hazel Baker and Sara Anne each scoring a team-high two goals apiece. The team effort in attack was needed to stave off a five-goal performance from Brighton’s Zoe Heffernan.
The rematch between the Titans and the Miners will be an intriguing one, but Olympus will need all its fire power — and then some — if it hopes to pull off the upset and hand Park City its first loss in program history.
The match will take place on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Zions Bank Stadium.
“It’ll be exciting to play on a big field in a big stadium,” Clayton said. “A lot of the girls have never played in a stadium that big before, so we’re ready to practice tomorrow and prepare … but it’ll be about playing our game, and when we play our game we can beat anybody in the state.”