Phoenix improve record with shutout over Box ElderMay 06, 2021 10:55AM ● By Bruce Smith
Luke Smith and Cam Bingham celebrate a Farmington goal as Austin Argyle watches. Photo courtesy of Jody Rose/Wildrose Photography
It has been an inconsistent season for the Farmington boys soccer team.
That may be the norm during these coronavirus times, but the pandemic actually hasn’t been much of a factor for the Phoenix during the 2021 season.
“It has certainly been a rollercoaster,” said assistant coach Clay Holbrook. “We started out with a ‘bang,’ then we hit a low spot and now we’re turning it around.”
On April 23, Farmington improved its record to 7-4 with a 3-0 win over Box Elder. The victory was highlighted by several inspirational stops by sophomore goalkeeper Adam Esobosa, two goals by Cam Bingham and one from Austin Argyle. The victory also helped erase memories of a 3-2 loss at Box Elder a month earlier.
“That game was played in a blizzard,” coach Aaron Soelberg recalled. “We never should have lost. We were down 2-0, came back to tie and then they got a score (by Reggie Grear) in the final minute.”
Grear actually had all three of the Bees’ scores in that match. With Farmington ahead 2-0 early in the second half of the second match, he had another chance to do as much damage to Farmington as the recent windstorm that pushed through the campus and sent two of the program’s six soccer goals toppling sideways.
Grear, sporting a mustache and full beard that made him look more like a 35-year-old than a high schooler, lined up to face Esobosa on a penalty kick. The shot, however, caromed off Esobosa’s leg and went in the opposite direction.
While Farmington fans cheered, and Esobosa tried to quickly recover from the deflection, the Phoenix charged downfield on the school’s artificial-turf field and Bingham sent a shot into the net that decided the outcome.
“We wanted to score first, and we wanted to keep the momentum,” Esobosa said. “After the shot, I was still in a daze and wasn’t watching what happened. I was happy how we reacted.”
After Bingham’s goal, the Farmington bench erupted, and then several of the players signaled to their goalkeeper to thank him for the assist.
“He stopped quite a few (shots) for us today, didn’t he?” said Holbrook, smiling.
The shutout was Farmington’s fourth this season, and most have been attributed to Esobosa, a sophomore who is following in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Esobosa said he used to play forward until four years ago, but moved to keeper after hearing his grandfather’s goalkeeper success stories while playing soccer in Mexico. Esobosa said his grandfather almost made a professional team there and gave him a few pointers.
“I like penalty kicks,” he said. “I’m confident that I can stop them by ‘reading’ the shooter and figuring out what he’s going to do. The Box Elder kid was scary. He’s a big guy.”
Esobosa, however, has also become scary for opponents. He was in goal when the Phoenix started the season with four straight wins, but hurt his arm in mid March and missed two games. He returned to post a 3-1 win over Woods Cross, and his latest shutout moved Farmington into second place in the Region 5 standings with four regular-season games remaining.
The Phoenix, who are scheduled to move up and face tougher competition as a 6A (larger) school next fall, were just one game behind first-place Viewmont and Holbrook and Esobosa agreed that Farmington is the best team in the region and may eventually finish on top.
“I coach a lot of club ball and know a lot of the players on all the local teams,” Holbrook said. “We may not have won all of our games, but this team has the most talent and we’re starting to build the chemistry we need to win consistently.”
Esobosa is one of three sophomore goalkeepers. In fact, Farmington started just two seniors in its lineup. Bingham is one of them and has provided much of the offense. His two scores against Box Elder made him the team’s leading goal-scorer (7) and, if Esobosa can continue to work his magic at the net, he won’t need many more to push the Phoenix toward a good seed at the state tournament, which is scheduled to begin May 14. Semifinal games will be held May 25 at Herriman High School and the title game is May 28 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
“Other teams still look at us as the new kid (school) on the block, but we’re not going anywhere,” said Soelberg.