LEHI — Being forced to play its backup goalie hardly proved a problem for the Wasatch boys soccer team during Friday's 2-1 win over Skyridge. In fact, it proved quite the boost in what proved a hotly contested match played in frigid conditions.
Many players performed well on both sides, but perhaps standing out most was Elder Gutierrez Ruiz, a sophomore backup goalie who played like a senior starter throughout the match's 80 minutes.
"He played out of his head. He played a great game," said Wasatch coach Jared Hendry.
Ruiz was put into action after Wasatch's starting goalie was forced to the sidelines after breaking his teeth a collision, according to Hendry. Enter Ruiz, and the Wasps didn't miss a beat.
The sophomore made great saves throughout but was perhaps at his best making two big saves during the match's final few minutes, with the Falcons putting on a lot of pressure.
The first one came on a beautiful attempt from straightaway on a free kick, with the ball looking to sneak in right under the crossbar before Ruiz jumped up to just to knock it over the top. The next came with a kick-save late on what was yet another prime scoring opportunity squandered by Ruiz and his impressive back-row defense.
"Our boys played nice and calm and were just distributing the ball to one another and getting it out of there," Hendry said. "The last 10 minutes, Skyridge was pushing up players and kept pushing and pushing, but our guys played an incredible match."
Helping out the defense considerably was a Wasatch attack that brought about a 2-0 lead.
The first goal came at the 10:18 mark of the first half, with Carlos Vargas making true on a shot from straightaway that snuck in just inside the right-hand post.
"Carlos has been there all season for us," Hendry said. "I think this is his ninth goal of the season, and he just knows how to find the right place at the right time."
The second goal came at the 33:15 mark of the second half on a perfectly executed cross from Greyson Mercer that was headed into the back of the net by Wesley Carse.
Skyridge did find its way past Ruiz and the Wasatch defense with 21:30 left in the first half when Tommy Phillips lifted a touch shot over the head of a charging Ruiz and into the goal, making the final 20 minutes perhaps more intense than otherwise.
"It's always fun, but yeah, at the end it gets a little nervous for us out there," Ruiz said. "But you just have to show that you can hold your ground and show what you're capable of. And that's what I did."Comment on this story
Also helping out was a back-row defense led by Jaxon Bridge, who contributed two saves himself, when Ruiz was forced out of position.
With the win Wasatch improves to 6-1-1 on the year, but more importantly a 2-1 Region 8 record, which puts it on top of the standings along with Skyridge and Maple Mountain.
"Skyridge is an excellent team and to get a (win) over them it's a great show to what our kids can do," Hendry said. "We have a really tough region … so to get up here and to win one on the road is a great opportunity. I really feel good for the boys."