HEBER CITY — It snowed most of the morning here on Friday. It was windy and temperatures were in the 30s. However, what seemed like inclement conditions for a soccer game turned out to be the perfect backdrop for the brutal contest between Wasatch and visiting rival Park City.
More than two hours after the game began on the turf of Wright-Tree Stadium, Wasatch punched in the winning goal with 47 seconds remaining in the second overtime period to earn a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Miners.
Coming in, the Wasps had a strong hold on the region lead and sported an overall record of 7-0. Meanwhile, Park City was playing good early-season soccer as well, compiling a 3-1-1 record. However, records are often tossed out the window when these two teams meet and it’s all left out on the field.
Park City was the aggressor from the start. With a strong cold wind at their backs the Miners attacked Wasatch and repeatedly forced themselves into Wasp territory. They used their bodies as weapons, choosing to play Wasatch as physically as possible.
The Miners drew first blood with a goal by Will McFarlane halfway through the first period, giving the visitors the lead and Wasatch its first deficit this season.
Just as Wasatch began to gain some momentum and penetrate the Park City defense, another player was put on the ground, this time with an injury. Forward Garrett Magie from Park City stayed down and was carried off the field with a leg injury.
The 10-minute break slowed the action and neither team could get anything going in the waning minutes of the first period, leaving the score at 1-0 in favor of Park City at halftime.
The wind eased off by the start of the second half, but Wasatch did not. The Wasps came out aggressively and quickly had two shots on goal, which were both saved by the Miner goalkeeper. The Wasps kept coming, however, and eventually forward Alex Espinoza broke through with a goal, tying the game at 1-1.
The game was well played defensively by Wasatch in the second half. Defenders Jason Larson, Fredrik Larsen and Hunter Ketterer protected goalie Cody Cowley, stopping any chance of Park City getting near the net. The Miners were allowed one true shot on goal during the second half as the Wasps attacked the other end regularly.
Regulation ended with the score tied 1-1. The first overtime came and went without a score, bringing on the second overtime period. By now, the majority of the spectators were standing at the railing, as these teams would fight it out until the end.
That end came with less than a minute remaining in the second overtime period when Espinoza dribbled the ball in closer to the box and found Ben Powell just on the other side and sent him a precision pass. Powell laced the ball into the top corner of the net for his state-leading 12th goal on the season.
Ketterer credited his team’s poise after a shaky first half. “It was tough out there for sure,” said the senior defender. “Once we settled down in the second half, we were able to play our game. They’re a great team. It was a great win for us.”
Powell gave the praise of his game-winning goal to Espinoza, who trails him in the state with 11 on the year. “That was all Alex,” said Powell. “He just worked it in around those guys and passed it to me. All I had to do was kick it in.”
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and is a contributor to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org