Payson boys soccer took their show on the road this week, with tough matches against Blue Ridge defending state champs at the varsity level.
As if that wasn't tough enough, both the jayvee and varsity squads had the added challenge of playing in the rain throughout both of their games.
The jayvees were the first to take the soggy field and found themselves in an extremely evenly matched battle.
Payson forward Daniel Wing found the net for the lone Longhorn goal, struggling through a tough Blue Ridge defense to make the score.
Defense was also a big factor for Payson as they allowed only one goal throughout the game. As regulation time ran out, the teams were deadlocked at 1-1. In overtime, the struggle continued and both teams showed outstanding defensive expertise.
As the clock once again ran out, both teams were still tied at 1 and that's where the score stayed.
Coach Byron Quinlan said there were a number of standouts in the game.
"Michael Oroczo, who plays forward, did an outstanding job, and Trevor LaHaye has also been playing real hard," he said. "On defense, Lucas Schmidt and Jeremy Yoder both have been playing super."
The varsity boys went into their match with the defending state champs knowing it would be a tough game.
"We played well in the first half," Quinlan said. The team was down by one at the half, and held Blue Ridge to only one goal.
Quinlan said the second half was another story.
"It was a culmination of the rain and some of the officials' calls repeatedly going in favor of Blue Ridge that made it tougher for us in the second half," he said. Quinlan said this made a difference in the level of the Longhorns' play.
The final score was 3-0 bringing Payson's record overall to 7-6 and 4-3 in conference play.
"We've been kind of on a winning streak, but Blue Ridge is one of the toughest teams in the state and they're going to take conference," the coach said. "Our kids have really been improving a lot though and we're on target to make it to state."
Beatin' Blue Ridge
The varsity Lady Horns soccer team added yet another name in its list of wins, downing Blue Ridge 3-1 in a hotly contested match Wednesday at Rumsey Park.
Superior offense and defense kept the ball on the Blue Ridge side of the field throughout much the first half, with Payson scoring their first goal early in the game. Then Blue Ridge drove the ball toward the Payson net on a number of occasions, without success.
Payson scored two more times and pulled out much of their first string late in the game. Those players left the field to the cheers of well-wishing on-lookers who were treated to an outstanding display of ball handling, passing and shooting skill.
Still much to the credit of Blue Ridge their opponents didn't give up. Blue Ridge scored their only point in the game with less than a minute on the clock.
Payson's Shaina Vaught said Blue Ridge has a number of tough players who presented quite a challenge.
"They're really good about passing up the middle," she said. "Two of their players competed along with three from Payson in Australia last summer."
Vaught said ball control was also a big factor for Payson.
"I think our strength was our passing, which was even better today, and Ashley Hollobaugh did a great job. The toughest part for me was trying to stay on my person because they're really fast."
The girls now begin preparations for the state championships later this month.