Boys' Soccer Heads To Third Seed In Playoffs


With 2-1 credentials in Rim region play, the Longhorns soccer team remains in the thick of the chase for a top-four finish and a third consecutive seed into the state playoffs.

That tournament begins Oct. 29 in Camp Verde and wraps up there with the championship fray Nov. 6.

Because the Rim region is large with eight teams, and the schools are unable to complete a home-and-away series against one another, the results of only the Wednesday-played games will be used in the final standings.

The Rim teams also play Saturdays, but coaches and administrators decided not to use those results because of the lack of home-away scheduling.

The Longhorns regional victories came Sept. 8 over Show Low, 3-1 and Sept. 15 against Alchesay Whiteriver, 7-0.

The team's single Rim loss -- 4-0 to Round Valley -- occurred Sept. 1 in Eagar/Springerville.

Coach Dave Greiner expects Round Valley and Blue Ridge to be top contenders for the Rim crown.

"Both of those are very good teams," Greiner said.

Payson won't know just how good the Yellow Jackets are until Oct. 13 when the teams clash at Rumsey Park. It will be the only regular season meeting of the two schools.

In addition to the Jackets and Elks, Greiner says Snowflake is improving and St. Johns is tough, based on what he witnessed last year.

Tournament play

At the onset of the season, Greiner said he was looking forward to two upcoming tournaments since both would give him ample opportunity to assess his players and also provide the athletes more playing time to improve skills and conditioning.

At the 12-team Chino Valley Invitational played Sept. 10 and 11, the Horns got just that, playing four hotly contested games in less than two days.

The trio of tournament victories were impressive ones in which the Horn defense held their opponents scoreless. Those wins included a 4-0 triumph over St. Gregory, a 3-0 upset of Palo Verde Christian and a 1-0 undoing of Desert Christian.

The loss was to Chino Valley, 6-0.

Whipping Palo Verde was especially gratifying for Greiner and his charges since PV was the team that ended the Horns' dream of a state championship last year with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory in the tournament quarter finals.

In the Horns' Chino Valley tournament triumph over Desert Christian -- which actually ended in a scoreless tie in regulation-- Tyler Perna salvaged the win by making good on the sixth shot of an overtime shoot-out.

The efforts of the DC team prompted Greiner to stamp them an up-and-coming team that could make a strong statement in the state tournament.

The players

The on-the-field practice and game contributions of a trio of Longhorn players --Justin Cline, David Shaw and Keith Stevens --have drawn plaudits from the coach.

Cline, he says, "is the best (sweeper) in the region if not the state. He has speed and the ability to get back to the ball. He never gives up."

In Shaw, the Horns sport a player Greiner describes as one who is very active and usually seems to be in the right place at the right time.

Playing stopper, Stevens is at the back of the offense and the attack point of the defense.

The youngster, Greiner said, is a perfect fit for the position and fulfills his responsibilities well.

The Horns return to action tomorrow, Saturday, in Rumsey Park against the Holbrook Roadrunners. Game time is 1 p.m. The contest will be preceded at 11 a.m. by a jayvee clash involving Payson and the Roadrunners.

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