The Payson Longhorn varsity boys soccer team captured a tough win in double overtime against Holbrook last week which they hope will propel them into a strong start at this week's state tournament competition in Camp Verde.
"It was a trying experience," coach Byron Quinlan said when asked of his overall opinion of the match with the Roadrunners.
"We jumped up on them early with a quick goal and had one more in the first half to put us up 2-0," Quinlan said.
Both goals were scored by Payson foreign exchange student Karri Liikkanen who has offered outstanding play throughout the season.
Aside from a power-packed offense, the defense in the first half also held tough allowing no goals. When the players hit the sidelines at halftime, the score was still 2-0.
Then the "trying" part of the game unraveled.
"In the second half, the offense looked strong but were just unable to put the ball in the net," Quinlan said.
The Longhorns out-shot Holbrook by 30 shots in the game demonstrating significant offensive superiority. While Payson was able to keep the ball on the Roadrunner side of the field throughout much of the game, the shots on goal lacked the intensity to have Payson's domination show up in the scoring.
To Holbrook's credit, their players were far from giving up. The Roadrunners came back to tie the game at 2-2. Strong play on both sides of the field kept the score tied until the clock ran out, sending the competition into overtime.
Much like the start of the game, Payson came out quick to score early on in the two 10-minute overtime periods.
"We were able to capitalize on a penalty kick by Travis Sanders, which put us ahead 3-2," Quinlan said. Sanders scored the goal in the first 10 minutes of OT and Payson's defense rose to the occasion holding the Roadrunners scoreless throughout the rest of the game.
Payson captured the fiercely fought match 3-2.
The Longhorns record now stands at 9-7 overall and 6-4 in conference play. With a number of other teams still needing to finish regular season games this week, it appears the Horns will finish their season either 3rd or 4th in conference.
The Payson boys' next and final challenge of the year will be the state finals in Camp Verde this Friday and Saturday.
"It looks like we're going to be playing some pretty tough teams, so we'll be kind of mixing things up and going with more of a defensive strategy," Quinlan said.
The team is also focused on resting up and getting healthy for the finals.
"We've been getting a little banged up lately," the coach said.