Sandy • Moments after Ben Powell scored the most important goal of his life, a friend came and wrapped his arms around him. That friend needed a pick-me-up. That friend needed a goal. That friend was fellow Wasatch team captain and keeper Cody Cowley.
After Powell gave the Wasps a 1-0 lead eight minutes into their Class 3A boys' soccer state semifinal against Ogden on Friday night, Cowley made what seemed like a season-altering mistake. He misjudged a 50-yard free kick and helplessly saw the ball bounce over his head and into the net.
Wasatch and Ogden exchanged blows for the next 65 minutes.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Powell sent his Wasps to the 3A title game and simultaneously got a monkey off his buddy's back. His golden goal in the first minute of extra time defeated the Tigers 2-1.
"From hero to zero," an emotional Cowley said afterward. "These guys played so good and saved my back."
Cowley, a hero in the 3A quarterfinals penalty-kick victory over Dixie, wrapped his long arms around Powell and told him how much the dramatic goal meant to him. Wasatch now gets to play for its second championship in three seasons, and Powell, a senior, made it all happen after fellow senior Domey Esipnoza played what Powell described as a "perfect ball."
"Mistakes happen," Powell said. "That's part of the game. We're a team, we've come this far and [Saturday] is our last game. Hopefully we can stay undefeated."
The Wasps are 19-0, but Friday's game against Ogden will go down as its most difficult to date considering the circumstances. The Wasps threatened offensively but also were given numerous scares by a counterattacking Tiger squad.
After Powell scored his second goal, he sprinted toward the crowd and leapt into the air and into the arms of his teammates. The moment was his, and he gave his team a chance to finish a season marked with perfection Saturday.
"He was a pudgy little kid six or seven years ago," Wasatch coach Dawain Wheatley said. "He just works his butt off. I've never seen a kid who works that hard."
Now on to Park City, onto the Miners, the Region 10 combatants whose rivalry with Wasatch ends Saturday because the Wasps move upward to Class 4A next season.
The rivals in red stand in the way of 20-0 and euphoria at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"The hardest game of my life," Powell said. "That's what I expect."
Class 3A title game
at Rio Tinto Stadium
1:30 p.m. • Park City vs. Wasatch