The Payson High School varsity boys soccer team won its season opener, plowing through Round Valley with coach Byron Quinlan pointing to toughness as the reason for the win.
"They scored the first goal, which made us nervous" the coach said, "but we scored quickly to tie it up."
Each team went on to score again, tying it up at the half. The Horns quickly scored two more goals in the second half, taking the lead 4-2.
"We were pretty strong," Quinlan said.
Round Valley scored its final goal as time was running out, but it wouldn't be enough to catch Payson with a final score of 4-3.
Branden Peters turned in an outstanding effort, the coach said, scoring two goals.
"He looked really tough," he said. "One of our international players from Finland, Carri Liikkanen, scored two goals and really played tough.
"I also saw some good things out of Drew Brown, Tyson McKee, Andrew Karlowski and Zach McQuain, who all did very good jobs," he said.
Quinlan said the backfield needs some improvements for upcoming games.
"Defense needs to improve a little bit, but we'll get there," the coach said. "The toughest part of the game against Round Valley was getting into the flow of things. After they scored the first goal, it was kind of a wake up call."
Looking at the Longhorns' strengths during the game, offense turned in a stellar performance, Quinlan said.
"Our mid-fielders and forwards were looking very strong," he said, "with our offense doing a great job of making lots of shots on goal."
The girls' varsity squad also came away victorious from the battle with Round Valley with coach Linda Gibson's focus on fundamentals really showing positive results.
"We did really well passing the ball and keeping the ball outside," Gibson said.
Ashly Hollobaugh, Melissa Tucker, Megan Branstetter and Jenni Cohen each turned in goals, while the talented defense positions held RV scoreless throughout the game.
The squads now turn their attention to Wednesday matches against Show Low, which coaches agree will be another test of the Horns' mettle.