The UHSLL Class A state championship game between the Park City Miners and Corner Canyon Chargers was everything the Utah lacrosse community was hoping for and expecting: tough defense, momentum swings, lead changes, big hits, and a one-goal margin of victory. Park City used a balanced offensive attack, averaging two goals a quarter, and domination at the faceoff X to keep things close, but they couldn’t quite close the gap in time. Fueled by a big second quarter and a Zack Fronckowiak hat trick, the Chargers took an early lead and their senior-laden defense was able to just hold off Park City for long enough for Corner Canyon to secure the state championship with a 9-8 victory.
“A long time waiting,” smiled Corner Canyon head coach Mark Davis, “Garrett Bullet, Garrett Michaeli, Harry Waddoups, and Cole Parkinson – Those four, when I first was a head coach…those were my four freshmen, and they’re now seniors this year and the third time’s a charm. Unbelievable, I am so proud of what those boys did.”
The contest started under less-than-ideal conditions as dark clouds opened up and a constant downpour drenched the field and the players. The wet conditions seemed to slow the oft-efficient teams and the matchup saw many early mistakes and throwaways as the players adjusted to their wet pockets. After about three minutes, things started to settle in and Corner Canyon took advantage of a man-up situation to net the first goal of the game on a Matt Graney elevator shot to the top corner. Park City tried to respond, getting a great look at the cage, but the Charger’s Quinton Mathie made a great save and was able to find an outlet to get it back into the hands of the Charger offense. Corner Canyon’s Max Franckowiak then took the ball on the low wing and executed a tight roll-dodge, sneaking the ball between the wickets for the tally. The Miners retaliated, though, with a three-goal run: a Kolton Atkinson laser from the mid-wing, a tough ride causing the Charger keeper to lose it into his own net, and a Chad Merrick catch-and-finish on the crease with just four seconds left in the period, giving Park City the 3-2 edge after one.
The second quarter started with big defensive plays, including some yard-sale checks and big hits. The Chargers were able to even things up at the 9:19 mark when Davis Zwicky executed a great split-dodge to get himself open on the crease for the score. Roughly a minute later, Jason Adams caught the ball in transition and buried it low to give the Chargers their first lead of the day. Park City kept it tight, Justin Pickard sending the ball from distance on a frozen rope to the top corner of the goal and knotting things at four apiece. The stalemate wouldn’t last long, though, and the Chargers tickled the twine on a Parkinson shot shortly after. The rest of the quarter was wet mayhem with each team trying to push transition and each defense coming up big and knocking the ball to the ground, causing a lot of scrums and de-cleating body checks. Corner Canyon found itself with the upper-hand after one of these scrums and Zack Franckowiak scored the last goal of the half with high heat from the top of the box, putting the Chargers up 6-4 at the break.
“Keep our composure,” Coach Davis said when asked what he told his team during this tight game, “We’ve been here before, this is our home field, take advantage. We let them play.”
After more messy transition to start the third, Park City narrowed the gap to one on a Chase Christensen shot from the top of the box. Then, a Justin Pickard goal for the Miners tied things up once again at 6:22. The teams played deadlocked for most of the rest of the quarter, and it looked like they’d enter the fourth quarter on even ground, but Corner Canyon’s Matt Graney snuck a shot past the goalie with just forty-four seconds left and gave the Chargers the momentum going into the last period of the game, up 7-6.
Zack Franckowiak fed off the Charger momentum early and put in a goal on a face dodge less than a minute into the quarter. The rain let up, but the teams didn’t and another long period of tight defenses and scoreless possessions followed. Park City looked like they’d narrowed the lead, but the shot that had beaten the keeper hit the crossbar instead and flew harmlessly away from the cage with 5:50 left. The remaining minutes were a furious scramble, by the Chargers to eat away at the clock, and by the Miners to get two and even up the score. With just over two minutes to play, the Miners found gold when Merrick stashed a behind-the-back shot between the orange pipes and pulled Park City to within one. The Chargers showed their resilience, though, and Zack Franckowiak found the ball in transition while Park City was running a 10-man ride. With the keeper out of the cage, Franckowiak easily tossed it in to give the Chargers a cushion with under two minutes to play. After a failed offensive attempt by Park City, the Miners used a frantic ride to knock down a pass and grab a goal. But they would come up just short as they were unable to get the ball on the following faceoff and the Chargers bled the remaining seconds off the clock to capture their first ever state title.