Payson Soccer Named 'All-Mountain Region' Team


During the 1999 regular season soccer wars, a bevy of Longhorn players impressed opposing coaches enough to earn their votes for the "All-Mountain Region" team.

Chosen in last week's balloting were Jeremy Conner, David Shaw, Justin Cline, Tyler Perna, Keith Stevens, Adam Staszak, Joey Klein, Paul Rudnick and Meikle Garrett.

Conner, Shaw and Cline were tapped to the all-region first team. Perna, Stevens and Staszak are second teamers. Honorable mention honors went to Klein and Rudnick.

Some of those players could pick up even more honors when the all-state tournament team is announced by prep officials. At press time, PHS coach Dave Greiner had not been notified if any local athletes had been selected.

Wednesday evening at the Tonto Rim Baptist Camp, the players named all-region were honored at the team's season-ending awards banquet.

Conner, a senior mid-fielder and stopper who aspires to play on the college level, is described by Greiner as "the most complete player I've had. He could do everything."

Conner was a four-year letter winner for the soccer team.

Shaw, known for his speed as a sprinter on the PHS track team, was a team captain and one of the leaders of the squad, Greiner said.

As a sweeper, Cline lettered three years and was "tenacious on defense," Greiner said.

Playing the center midfield position, Perna -- a two-year varsity letter-winner -- "saw the field well and distributed the ball where it was needed," Greiner said.

Stevens rotated between the stopper and midfield positions, depending upon where he was needed. The coach describes him simply as a tough player.

As a three-year letterman, Staszak held down a slot at midfield. His strength, the coach said, "was going to the goal and his nice outside shot."

In earning honorable mention, Klein shined as the Horns' rock solid goalkeeper who could be counted on to keep opposing offense at bay. Greiner said he was one of the top three goalkeepers he'd seen in the state.

As a foreign exchange student from Germany, Rudnick was a welcome surprise to the Horn lineup when drills opened last August.

The youngster didn't have a lot of formal training in the sport, playing mostly pick-up games in his homeland but "had a very strong shot to the goal," Greiner said.

Payson's own 'Rudy'

The Meikle Garrett story in PHS soccer reads similar to "Rudy" in Notre Dame football.

Dropped from the jayvee team as a freshman but given the option to stay on as a practice team member, he chose the latter.

A season of hard work -- but no playing time -- began to pay dividends a year later when he finally made the Longhorn team. He eventually worked his way into the starting lineup with a solid showing in a tournament held in Show Low last year.

Greiner describes the youngster as a mentally tough player who would "take the line and never allow anyone to cross it."

The 1999 campaign for the all-region players and their teammates came to an end last Friday in Camp Verde with a 2-1 state tournament semifinal loss to the Round Valley Elks.

It was the third meeting of the season between the two Mountain Region rivals. In regular season play, RV won a 4-0 victory, but the Horns came roaring back weeks later to thump the Elks 5-2 in Payson.

In reaching the state semifinals, the Longhorns set a school record for longevity in the tournament.

Last year's team -- the previous best -- advanced to the quarterfinals before being ousted.

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