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High school boys lacrosse: Park City perseveres in late-night, chaotic win to claim back-to-back 5A state championships

HERRIMAN—Take a heated playoff rivalry and generous amount of lightning, and what you get is about two hours worth of chaotic late-night lacrosse.

When the dust cleared, Park City stood atop the proverbial mountain as it secured its second straight 5A state championship with an 11-6 win over No. 1 Olympus.

Owing to the high standard of each of the programs and the recent history between them, there was no shortage of passionate play on the field.

Grass-stained jerseys and bruised shins were in plenteous supply, multiple players sustained injuries and tempers flared at times both on the field and in the stands.

It really threatened to get ugly on more than a few occasions, to the point that the public address announcer poignantly repeated the UHSAA’s sportsmanship statement during an injury timeout in the third quarter to try to cool the flames.

“Olympus is an incredibly well-coached and talented team, and they are a really physical team, and we knew that going in,” Park City head coach Michael Persky said.

“We challenged the boys to think about what they were willing to do to win this game, and they showed it.”

The 5A title game was the third game of the day to be played on the turf at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman. I

n a fitting conclusion to a spring sports season that had innumerable canceled contests, weather delays and practices forced indoors, numerous lightning delays dominated the day until the Miners and Titans finally take the field for a start time of approximately 9:10 p.m.

When the subject was breached earlier in the day to possibly move the game to Saturday, UHSAA executive Jon Oglesby relayed that both teams resolved to play that night no matter how late, a decision assuring Park City crowds a midnight drive home.

“This is a group that was impacted by COVID,” Persky said. “We just weren’t going to deny them an opportunity to play this game. Win, lose or draw, they just wanted a chance to show what they had.”

Initially, as has been the case in many games this year, Olympus put on a clinic in the opening minutes. The Titans scored in the first minute, followed by two unassisted goals from midfielder Ethan Hartfield, both of which came so far back they were almost outside the attack area.

Park City finally got on the board just within two minutes in the first quarter, and that goal proved the beginning of a huge turnaround.

From the moment the second quarter started, the Olympus offense was effectively suffocated, and the Titans’ defense suddenly found itself on its heels trying to stem a voracious Miner offense.

Senior midfielder Beckett Wolf assisted on two goals to spur the Miners back to tie the game, 3-3, then he buried one of his own to take a 4-3 lead with 5:32 left in the half.

“Our defense has been a work in progress all year long,” Persky said. “We’re probably the worst first-quarter team you’ve ever seen. We’re probably the worst clearing team ever to win a championship, but when those boys had to buckle down, they did, and they put their hearts into it.”

The physicality of the matchup reached a breaking point midway through the fourth quarter when Hardin attempted to charge through the Park City back line and wound up getting walloped by two Miner defenders.

After several minutes went by getting him back on his feet, the Titans had two minutes of play time up two players from the ensuing penalties.

After a minute, Olympus finally converted on a goal to trail, 6-5.

It was all Park City from there as the Miners went on a 5-0 run to shut down any comeback hopes.

Senior Riley Mullholland led the downhill charge to the finish with three goals in just over three minutes of play.

“Fighting back from an injury my sophomore year, then winning a state championship my junior year, then going back-to-back my senior year, it’s pretty much a dream,” Mulholland said.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more, especially with these boys. What a ride it’s been from the very start.”

What a ride it’s been, indeed, for the entire lacrosse playoffs. Every day of both the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse tournaments from the semifinals onward featured weather delays, and this game wrapped up at around 11:15 p.m.

Persky said he looks forward to a good night’s sleep.

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