Gunnar Stray-Gundersen isn't one to back away from a challenge.
Miners coach Jesse Blais subbed the sophomore in the closing minutes of Park City's opening game of the season. Blais offered Stray-Gundersen the right sort of motivation before the player took the field against Weber.
"Score and you get to start next game," Stray-Gundersen said his coach told him. "That's the kind of incentive I needed."
Stray-Gundersen secured a starting spot after heading the ball in off a Alejandro Vieyra corner kick eight minutes later.
Stray-Gundersen has kicked that crack in the door wide open. He finished the regular season with 14 goals. But he is quick to deflect the praise for his scoring output.
"Big credit to my team," he said. "Almost all of my plays can't happen just with me. It's the assists that I get from Alejandro and the backfield that gives me scoring opportunities."
Soccer in Park City is a different animal. Because most away games involve long bus trips, Stray-Gundersen thinks that his team really has jelled well on these lengthy travel days. It affords the players a lot of opportunities to discuss the games and establish what they need to do when they reach their destination.
"You cannot but build good chemistry on the bus," Stray-Gundersen said. "We talk about what we need to do, where we need to improve. Also, those trips are a lot of fun."
That camaraderie helped the Miners finish 6-4 in region play.
Stray-Gundersen only focused on doing whatever it takes to win as the playoffs get under way.
"It's about staying positive and fighting through the negative," he said. "Through good or bad shots, we know that we will always be in it, fighting through it all."