Playing your best soccer in front of the friendly homestanding crowds is one thing.
The Lady Longhorns varsity soccer team learned it can be quite another thing when you're on the road. Payson's recent schedule has included a few stellar wins at home, but the Camp Verde soccer tournament this past weekend provided some of the toughest challenges of the season for the hometown girls.
The first came Friday with a long, evenly matched fight with a tough team from Sedona. The Longhorns found themselves down 2-0 at the half, but came back to score twice in the second half. Tough Payson defense held Sedona scoreless throughout almost the remainder of the game.
With only 30 seconds left on the clock, the score was tied 2-2. The time was running out, and Sedona rose to the occasion and put the ball in the net for the winning goal.
"We were both very evenly matched, but they just scored the final goal," coach Linda Gibson said.
Next, Payson faced Camp Verde Friday evening and fatigue proved to be the next big challenge for the girls to struggle with.
"We were tired after being there all day," Gibson said. The girls had arrived at 11 a.m. and endured a long hard game with Sedona. At 6:30 p.m., they were starting to notice some negative effects.
"Fatigue especially in the second half was a big factor," Gibson said. Payson lost that match 3-1.
The tough struggles continued again Saturday as Payson went into the second of the two-day tourney. Their first game was with Snowflake who Payson had soundly defeated just last week. The score of that game was 5-0 with Payson completely dominating, but Saturday's game showed Snowflake approached this game with renewed determination.
"We played good, but you just never know. (Snowflake) was just really ready to go," Gibson said.
Snowflake battled tough throughout the game as did Payson but when the clock ran out, Snowflake would be the victor with a final score of 1-0.
Next up was Round Valley, Payson's fourth and final challenger.
"We just played to have a good time real nice and relaxed," Gibson said.
Payson forward Sarah Clifton showed she was ready to compete scoring her first two goals of the season and made half of Payson's total points in the game. Payson walked away a winner with a final score of 4-1.
The Lady Longhorns are now preparing for their next match with Blue Ridge.
"Before the ASU games, we watched the U.S. Olympic Team games on TV and it really pumped the girls up," the coach said. "Now, we're watching the U.S. women's game with Norway to get pumped for our last game with Blue Ridge Wednesday."