Winning the state championship was never a question this season for Ben Powell. His mind was made up before he ever sank his cleats into a soccer field this spring.
That challenge was met on Saturday afternoon when Powell’s Wasatch Wasps defeated Park City 1-0 in the 3A state soccer championship game to finish out the 2013 season with an unblemished 20-0 record. It was the second Wasp title in three years. The first was in 2011, when Powell was a sophomore.
Sitting in the locker room at Rio Tinto Stadium, barefoot and satisfied, Powell reflected on his senior championship season at Wasatch and looks toward the future.
“It’s been such an unbelievable year,” he said. “We had so many hard games. Not like last year,” he added. “It seems like we took things for granted last year and that’s why we lost. We weren’t going to let that happen this time.”
Powell ended this season just like he started it — in the corner of the opposing goalkeeper’s eye lurking like a shark. When the ball came his way, the senior closed in on the net with only one thing in mind. And he was successful at that more than any other forward in 3A.
Powell finishes the year second in the state overall in goals scored with 28 and outscored the next top scorer in 3A, who happens to be teammate Alex Espinoza, by 11 goals. Powell and Espinoza spent much of the season as the dynamic duo until Espinoza went down with an ankle ligament tear in the Wasps' next to last regular season game.
Not that Powell needed any extra incentive, but now another level of importance was placed on winning it all for his wounded teammate. “We’ve played together for so long now, and have been so close as a team, you begin to want it more for everyone else,” Powell said.
“Not just for Alex, but for all the seniors. For all the guys from last year too,” he added.
During halftime of the title game, Powell and teammate Austin Broadhead were presented with Academic All-State awards. Both young men have 4.0 GPAs.
In February, Powell received his calling to serve an LDS mission in the Chile Osorno Mission. He will leave on July 17, a challenge he is very excited about.
“I’m so excited to be going to that part of the world,” Powell said. “It’s the farthest south that you can go in Chile. A totally different experience I’m sure, so I can’t wait to go and begin that chapter of my life”
As far as continuing his soccer career, Powell plans to attend Dixie State on his return. He said he plans to study something in the medical field and anticipates being happy to get back to being part of a soccer team.
“Well, they play a lot of soccer down in Chile,” Powell joked. “So I’m sure I’ll never lose my love for playing and will be ready to jump back in when I get back,” he added.
Asked if he thought he might lose a step during his two-year absence, the senior grinned and said, “Nah it will be like riding a bike for me.”
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute to DNews Preps for your area, inquire at 801-237-2143.