Despite dropping a nonconference game to St. Johns Wednesday, the Longhorn soccer team has been on a winning streak which lifted them to 2-1 in conference play and 4-5 overall.
Coming off a 6-0 win against Alchesay and a 3-1 win in Sedona, the boys went to St. Johns this week where they met up with an opponent which proved to be worthy of the challenge.
The Longhorns found themselves down 1-0 in the first half, but quickly let St. Johns know this was going to be no walk in the park.
"They really kept their heads up and played hard. I was really proud of them," coach Byron Quinlan said. Just before the half, exchange student Jonas Neilsen scored for Payson off a pass from Branden Peters to tie the game.
In the second half, Payson came out hard, but struggled against a very fast team.
"They were a very quick and well-conditioned team which really showed in the second half," Quinlan said. "Being at home, they had a lot of support and they wanted to win badly. We just let our heads down and let it get away from us."
St. Johns would score two more times in the second half and held Payson scoreless for a final 3-1 win.
Despite the loss, Payson goalie Nick Sanders had an outstanding game, saving the score from becoming much more lopsided.
"Sometimes he faces a lot of pressure but he really does a great job knocking down the balls and keeping his head in the game," Quinlan said. "Tyson McKee also played real tough today. That kid is not afraid on anyone."
Andrew Karlowski also turned in an outstanding performance, showing superior toughness in the backfield.
The Horns take the show on the road to Holbrook Saturday and hope to advance in the conference standings.
Quinlan says he'll be looking to see how his team bounces back from the loss in St. Johns.
"Holbrook is a lot like us in many ways," he said, "so I think we can do well there if everyone can stay focused."