If there were any questions lingering about whether or not Corner Canyon’s No. 1 position in the state’s boys lacrosse rankings was deserved, they likely died off after the Chargers’ commanding performance Tuesday night.
Taking the field against Park City, its next-door neighbor in the rankings, Corner Canyon blazed its way to a 20-10 victory over the Miners in Park City. The hot, 6-0 start of the Chargers’ season seemed to warm up what was a cold, brisk evening.
The game was the third 20-plus goal game for the Chargers in their undefeated, six-game season.
“I definitely think it was a statement win,” said Corner Canyon head coach Aaron Ika, who said that he didn’t think his team deserved the No. 1 ranking until defeating the defending state champion Miners. “I didn’t vote us No. 1 in the coaches poll for the preseason, week one and week two because we hadn’t taken down the defending champs. So now that that’s done, we can get back to work and focus on the little things we’ve got to improve.”
After being tied through the first 17 minutes of game play, Corner Canyon went on to score a blistering 12 goals to Park City’s one over the next 23 minutes of the contest.
“They had to get those nerves out of the way and then they started playing like they normally do,” said Ika.
The youth of the team likely contributed to nerves the Chargers may have felt to start the game. Corner Canyon deploys only two upperclassmen in their rotation, with the rest being juniors or sophomores.
The Chargers certainly played like they had younger legs on the field, as they maintained a quick pace while using the superior speed and quickness of each individual player to get into open spaces and goal-scoring opportunities.
“That (speed and fast pace) is an MO that I’m trying to bring to every team I coach,” said Ika. “We try to practice as fast we can and we try to play as fast as we possibly can. It’s our strength, so we’ve got to exploit it.”
Junior attackmen Jon King led the Chargers’ potent goal-scoring attack, recording six goals. Senior team captain Eric Neilsen contributed four goals of his own, while Porter Wells and Blaze DeGracie scored three goals apiece.
On a night where so many players performed exceptionally well, Ika was quick to praise DeGracie’s performance in the midfield.
“He’s a do-it-all midfielder,” Ika said of DeGracie. “He played defense, offense and faced off a few times for us tonight. He’s one of the top midfielders in the state.”
Ika also spoke highly of his junior goalkeeper Ayden Santi, who made some exceptional saves on some tough, close-range shots from Park City.
Through the first six games of the season, the Chargers have scored 109 goals for an average of just over 18 goals a game. The Chargers have scored 45 goals more than the second-highest scoring team in the state, Olympus, albeit in two more games.
Coupled with the elite scoring, Corner Canyon has allowed only 20 goals all year. Half of those goals came Tuesday night against the Miners.
Ika said that the culture of positive reinforcement and positive criticism that he and his players have cultivated is what has made them dominant thus far, and it will be the key to future dominance.
“We’ve got to make sure they celebrate the good things they do right and that we correct the things they do wrong,” Ika said. “They’re going to hear it when they do it wrong, but when they do it right, they’re going to hear it even louder.”
The red-hot Chargers will take the field searching for their seventh win on Friday when they face Brighton.