Going into this season, the Wasatch High School varsity soccer club knew it could score some goals. The big question was could it put together a championship defense with all the expectd new faces. Four games into its season, so far, so good.
After an 8-0 demolishing of Spanish Fork in Heber on Tuesday, the Wasps, playing in what head coach Dawain Wheatley dubbed "region eight week," took on future 4A Region 8 rival Timpview on a chilly Thursday Provo night, and firmly held onto their number one ranking with a sound 3-1 win.
Wasatch started the game aggressively and quickly found itself in a penalty kick situation. Less than four minutes in, senior striker Ben Powell converted the one-on-one and the Wasps were up 1-0.
The Thunderbirds looked as though they were going to make it a game and swiftly got the ball to the other end, but could only manage one shot on goal. Wasp goalkeeper Cody Cowley easily made the stop and the brief threat was over.
Then for the next 20 minutes, the game was played in the middle of the field. Both teams played fast, working the ball sideline to sideline, but could find no opportunities to get to the goal. Beyond a few short breaks that ended in turnovers, neither squad could mount a serious offensive charge.
At the 10-minute mark, Wasatch found itself with a corner kick. Domey Espinoza booted the ball to the center, but it was quickly brought to the ground. After a flurry of blocked kicks between midfielders, senior defenseman Fredrik Larson charged forward with a strong kick that was originally pinned to the cross pipe, but rolled off the Timpview goalkeeper's hands as he came to the ground. The score put Wasatch in front, 2-0.
The second half began with the visiting team on the attack. It repeatedly put pressure on the T-bird back line and goalie with furious passing that had the home team on its heals.
Eight minutes into the half, Alex Espinoza broke free on the left wing and with only the goalkeeper in his way, timed his shot perfectly and hung it in the back of the net. The goal was Espinoza’s sixth on the year. Wasatch was up 3-0 and looking for the kill.
The Timpview defenders would not roll over, however, and despite several attempts by the visitors to put the game away, the score remained 3-0.
With five minutes left in the contest, Timpview found itself in position to get a score. It had penetrated the middle of the Wasatch zone and would take a couple of quick shots, one that would make its way into the net, spoiling the shutout for the Wasps.
That score seemed to reawaken Wasatch as it would not allow the T-birds to get another shot for the remainder of the game.
Afterward, coach Wheatley would voice his frustration despite his team’s fourth victory of the year. “I was very happy until five minutes left,” he said. “We just got too relaxed back there,” he added, shaking his head. “Overall though, I’m pleased — very pleased. It was a good win over a team we will be getting to know pretty good next year.”
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and a contributor to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org