There’s a culture change underway for the Park City High School girls soccer program.
As one of the few schools in the state to have teams at all three levels of play, according to head coach Micaela Carriel, the Miners can now continue the process that began two years ago when she took over the head coaching job.
“With everything going on in high school, we are way more than just about athletics and that’s part of what we focus on,” Carriel said. “With female athletes it’s especially important to cover everything. … It’s about character building, it’s about nutrition because a lot of female athletes don’t know how to properly eat, and most importantly, it’s about being leaders in their community and classroom.”
It’s a weird time for the Carriel and the Miners, though. They’re in a new league.
After winning the region championship last year, the girls will have to build off that success while playing up a division. Park City has moved up to 5A and will play with a new set of schools, a complete unknown to Carriel, for the upcoming season after spending last year in 4A.
“We are really excited about the opportunity but I know nothing about 5A. … Our region is all south of us so I don’t know much about them as well,” Carriel said. “One thing I know is that the girls are ready for the challenge.”
With seven seniors graduating from last year’s team, Carriel acknowledges that the different makeup of this year’s squad has led to a change in style of play. The Miners are implanting a more finessed and technical style of play that will allow them to control possession and the pace of matches more.
“It’s a totally different dynamic of girls in the program as well as on varsity than what we’ve had in the past,” Carriel said. “The girls are connecting more, building up through the back to the middle and forwards. … It’s a big change but I know we can do it.”
One of the biggest focuses from last year to this year, and what’s helped prompt the change in style of play, is the overall level of fitness the girls have entering the season.
Carriel met with the girls last April and told them what the preseason fitness test would entail. Then with the help of an offseason condition program, the girls entered this year ready to go from the start.
“We have training in the summer and I showed them the progression they should take in order to pass the test, because we don’t want them to pass the test in June and then struggle later on in August,” Carriel said. “We have a strength and conditioning coach (Jim Carriel) who gave the girls a program to do over the summer. We would meet every Wednesday but the girls were responsible for getting their workouts in on their own every Monday and Friday.”
Last year’s finish still sits with Carriel and the returners.
After winning the 4A Region 11 championship, Park City entered the playoffs with high hopes, but they came crashing down quickly with a loss in the first round. Granted the conditions weren’t ideal with snow covering the ground.
Carriel makes no excuses.
“The girls had some playoff jitters and we didn’t perform as we wanted it to. … The other team showed up and we didn’t.”
Another part of what makes this unit different than ones in the past is the personality of the team.
Instead being a “ra-ra”, dancing before practice type of team, Carriel says this squad is “intrinsically confident” in the way they’re quiet and just go about their business, knowing the task at hand and getting it done.
“The girls rise to the challenge in everything I’ve given them.” Carriel said. “And I challenge them a lot because this is a high-expectation, high-rigor program we have here so if they can understand that, they’re going to be just fine.”
The Miners begin their season on Wednesday at Lone Peak in Highland at 3:30 p.m. Their home opener two days later when they host Hillcrest at 3:30 p.m.