High school soccer: MVPs excelled when it mattered most
Yeates played center back a few times this season, and he could've easily excelled at that position given the chance. Gurney knew, however, that Yeates was too good to put behind the ball exclusively.
Outside of his memorable performance in the final, Yeates was at his best against Sky View on May 3, when he scored all five goals in a rout of the Bobcats.
Alex Espinoza, Wasatch
If you've got talent, it doesn't matter how big or how old you are. This sophomore midfielder epitomized that notion every time he stepped on the field.
Arguably the most entertaining player in the state, Alex Espinoza backed up the flare with incredible production, finishing with 21 goals and 19 assists to lead Wasatch to the first soccer state championship — boys or girls — in school history.
"He could've been cocky and flamboyant, but the thing I liked about Alex is that in practice and the games he really, thoroughly enjoyed getting his teammates involved and watching them succeed," said Wasatch coach Dawain Wheatley.
Espinoza didn't just feast on some of Wasatch's numerous weak opponents, either. The diminutive midfielder scored a goal in a 3-1 semifinal victory over Delta and then scored the only goal in the 3A championship game in the 64th minute against Juan Diego.
"He's got a self assurance about him that's not overly cocky, he just knows what he's going to do, and he'll tell you in a quiet way and then he goes out and does it," said Wheatley.
Poor grades prevented Espinoza from contributing his freshman season, but he got things sorted out for his sophomore season — and what a blessing it was for the Wasps.
Espinoza was a member of last year's Real Salt Lake Under-17 youth team and he's also on the state's ODP team.
"He just saw the field so well, and he moves constantly," said Wheatley.
David Beesley, Waterford
Outside of his incredibly timely equalizer in the 78th minute of the 2A championship game against St. Joseph, this Waterford defender went mostly unnoticed this year.
The outside back quietly did his job all season, and he did it very, very well.
"He was the primary mark on all the teams' premier scorers unless we were down a goal and I had to put him up front. He made a difference on both sides," said coach Tim Dolbin.
Whether it was marking up Millard's Pancho Alcala or South Summit's Levi Thompson, Beesley's defensive task was always a tough one but one he always excelled at.
"He's not a kid you would look at and say, 'Wow, this kid's powerful.' Very strong, very fearless and puts the hurt on people. Kids hate playing against him in practice," said Dolbin.
Despite playing at the back most of the year, Beesley was Waterford's second-leading scorer with five goals.
Incredibly, Beesley was the only senior on Waterford's state championship team. His coach was extremely impressed with the way Beesley motivated his teammates on and off the field.
"Someone that works hard in practice and motivates the team when they're down by a goal or a situation it looks like we're in trouble, and he filled all those roles and beyond," said Dolbin.
When his team needed him most in the final, he provided a lifeline with a stunning goal just two minutes from the final whistle.