We were only one of four teams in the state who moved up in region to qualify for the postseason. Still, I would like to have seen us finish better down the stretch. I’m happy we’re in … but it's not going to be easy for us in the playoffs. —Dawain Wheatley, Wasatch girls soccer coach
HEBER CITY — The Wasatch High School girl’s soccer team played its final home game of the year on Tuesday. The Wasps defeated the much-improved Provo Bulldogs 2-1, capping off a feel-good afternoon on Senior Day.
The victory was bittersweet for the home team as it clung to hopes of an upset involving a couple of other Region 8 schools later in the evening.
At one point during the 2013 girls soccer campaign, the Wasatch Wasps were riding a five-game winning streak and had a strong hold on first place in their new region.
The win streak ended at Timpview, but Wasatch was able to keep itself in the division championship hunt with follow-up wins against Salem Hills and Spanish Fork. But then things went sour for the Lady Wasps.
They dropped three straight games in frustrating fashion and fell from the top of Region 8. They found themselves needing a season-ending win and a little help from Salem Hills to have a shot at second place and a first-round home playoff game.
Wasatch did its part by defeating Provo, but Timpview ousted Salem Hills, leaving the Wasps in third place. That doesn’t mean Wasatch is looking back and hanging its head, however, it just means the road to a 4A championship is going to be a little tougher.
“Overall I’m pleased,” head coach Dawain Wheatley said. “We were only one of four teams in the state who moved up in region to qualify for the postseason. Still, I would like to have seen us finish better down the stretch. I’m happy we’re in but it's not going to be easy for us in the playoffs.”
Wasatch, at the very least, needed a strong game against Provo to boost its confidence. It got the win, but Wheatley would have liked to have seen more domination. “We really have to take advantage of our scoring opportunities,” he said. “We were in front of the goal a lot this game. You have to get the ball in the back of the net when those chances come.”
The Wasps managed goals in the first half, but were blanked in the second, giving its head coach some concern. “It's never for lack of effort,” he added. “We work hard. We talk about finishing. We just have to get the ball in the net.”
Sophomore Ella Ballstaedt, who has had a productive season leading Wasatch in goals in her first year as a varsity starter, put her team on the board first. A few minutes later, junior Emily Benson took a hard shot that ricocheted off the Bulldog goalie and Benson kicked the rebound through for a 2-0 advantage.
For the remainder of the first half and through the entire second half it was all defense and missed opportunities for Wasatch. They limited the Bulldogs' shots at the goal by being tough in the midfield, forcing turnovers, but could not capitalize.
At the 24-minute mark, Provo’s Megan Reed fought through a crowd in front of Wasp goalkeeper Torri Bills and worked a shot into the goal. It was the only real look the Bulldogs had the entire second half.
Provo head coach Cesar Cardoso was happy with his team’s effort in its first visit to Wasatch. “This is a nice field. It was a good game,” he said. “I thought we played hard. Hey — we won five games and tied Timpview one time. I have no complaints on this year. We’re going to get better.”
After the win and securing third seed, Wasatch now travels to Timpanogos next Tuesday for round 1 of the regionals. “We’ve been playing good soccer,” Wheatley said. “Defensively — we’re right there. We’ve done a good job all year stopping our opponents' best players. If we can put the ball in the back of the net, we’ll be fine.”
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, enquire at 801.237.2143.