In the team's second year of existence, it came as a mild surprise when a trio of Payson High School girls' varsity soccer players -- Elizabeth Gille, Davi Ann Greiner and Ashley Hollobaugh -- were named to the prestigious Class 3A-1A All-State team.
But the biggest shocker was the announcement that Greiner was chosen the best player in the state -- "Player of the Year."
"I had no idea I was even being (considered) for it," Greiner said. "I found out when coach (Linda Gibson) told me Friday."
The First Team star-squad, included Gille as a mid-fielder and Greiner as a goal keeper and striker.
Hollobaugh was chosen honorable mention as a striker.
Greiner earned the POY honors for picking up the most votes of any of the First Team members.
Despite being a tad unsettled by their selections, Gille and Greiner agreed being tapped was a huge honor and a credit to Gibson.
"We love our coach. She did a lot for us," Gille said.
The squad was selected at the conclusion of the 1998 season in a voting of Class 1A-3A coaches. Show Low coach Bobbi Wasson tabulated the votes and announced them last week.
In addition to the all-state honors, Gille and Greiner shared the team's Most Valuable Player award when it was given out by Gibson at a season-ending ceremony in late October.
Both teen-agers are four-year members of the Payson High School soccer team.
As freshmen and sophomores, the pair participated on a coed jayvee team. But later, just months prior to the 1997 season, the school decided to field a girls' varsity squad and Gibson was tapped as the coach.
Despite not having a true-division and conference to participate as does the boys' team, the Lady Horns completed an 11-game schedule in 1998 with a 5-5-1 record.
The highlight of the season for Gille, she said, was the Camp Verde Invitational contested Oct. 2-3.
There, she went on an offensive rampage scoring three goals in a tournament win over Sedona.
Greiner said best stamped in her recollections is a 6-1 season-ending revenge victory over Blue Ridge Oct. 20.
Earlier in the campaign, the Lady Horns had been embarrassed 8-0 by the Yellow Jackets.
"We came back and beat them," Greiner said.
Greiner's ascent to the Player of the Year accolades might have been nurtured during mid-season when she was switched to goalie from striker.
Suddenly teams were not able to score as easily against the Lady Horns and Greiner began to earn recognition from opposing coaches as a top-notch player at her position.
Both athletes are seasoned high school players but their careers began much earlier.
Living in California, Greiner first stepped onto the field at about four years of age.
Her father, Dave, was a high school coach at the time and instrumental in encouraging her to participate, she said. Dave Greiner has been the head coach of the Longhorn boys program the past two seasons. Prior, he coached both his daughter and Gille on the PHS coed jayvee team.
Gille's rise to soccer stardom began in first grade playing in the Town of Payson youth league.
Like her close friend Greiner, Gille was encouraged by her father Phil -- the Payson High School principal -- who has long been active in local youth and adult soccer programs.
Throughout elementary school and into their high school careers, both Greiner and Gille were standout players even when competing against boys.
On the coed jayvee team, both were starters as freshmen and sophomores.
But the concept of a girls varsity, they agree, is appealing.
"It's a lot better, having our own (girls) team," Greiner said.
"The sport," Gille said, "is going to be really big some day."
Following their graduation in the spring, the on-the-field friendships of Greiner and Gille will probably be over.
Gille said she is considering attending the University of Arizona in Tucson where she will major in either engineering or medicine.
Greiner is undecided about her future. She has thought about continuing her soccer career on the collegiate level. Undecided about a college, she only knows that she'd like to return to her home state of California, where she may even follow in her father's footsteps as a clergyman.
Another goal that remains for Greiner is to return to the sport some of what she has learned from it. "I want to coach, that's something I really want to do," she said.