SANDY — The Wasatch Wasps netted a goal in each half to defeat a tough Ben Lomond Scots team 2-0 in a hard-fought, aggressive 3A semifinal on Friday.
Both teams' nerves were on display for much of the first half of the semi, resulting in several fouls that slowed the tempo of the game and only seemed to make both teams more tense.
"My assistant coaches are unbelievably helpful," Wasatch head coach Dawain Wheatley said. "We were able to pull the kids out and talk to them to calm them down."
The Wasps seemed to settle down first, getting an excellent shot on goal at the 20-minute mark when Clay Heiner received a beautiful cross from Oscar Aguilar and booted a shot that was deflected by a Ben Lomond defender before being picked out of the air by Scots' keeper Tyler Walters.
Good defensive setups on Wasatch's end eliminated most opportunities for Ben Lomond until the nine-minute mark, when the Scots got good looks back to back, including a perfectly placed corner kick that gave Toby Story a shot at the near post that was saved by Wasatch goalie Dustin Armstrong.
Although the Scots controlled the ball for most of the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Wasps were the team to convert when Devon Hall played the ball through to Frankie Perez, who chipped the ball over goalie Walters as he rushed out to meet him with 49 seconds left.
Walters saved numerous good shot attempts by the Wasps in the second half to try to keep his team in it, but the Scots couldn't convert offensively.
Most of the Ben Lomond challenges in the second half came off unusual plays, due mostly to Wasatch's stellar rotating defensive line of Ryan Hudgens, Quinn Lythgoe, Collin Hopkins, Casey Muir, Mitchell Probst and Cameron Richardson.
"We moved players around and matched up throughout the game," Wheatley said. "My defense's communication is just unbelievable."
"Our defense has been solid the whole year," Aguilar said. "Because of injuries, we haven't played with our whole team all season, so everyone has been stepping up."
Aguilar put in the Wasps' second goal off a pinpoint cross from KB Bonner that Aguilar volleyed out of the air, over a diving Walters and into the corner of the net with 11:39 remaining.
It was Aguilar's first goal of the season — par for the course on this balanced Wasatch squad that has seen 15 different players score this year.
"We've got a deep team with lots of different role players," Wheatley said.
"I've got any number of players willing to accept responsibility each game."
The Wasps will meet the Judge Memorial Bulldogs in the 3A State Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m.
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