Victories over longtime rival and traditional prep powerhouse Snowflake are the sweetest triumphs in Rim country sports outings.
That fact of small town sports life made the Lady Longhorn soccer team's twin wins over the Lobos as tasty as mom's apple pie.
The victories, Sept 12 at Rumsey Park, got off to a rousing start with the junior varsity eking out a 3-2 triumph. In the second game of the twin bill, the varsity squad fell behind 1-0 in the first half, but came roaring back to take a 4-1 triumph.
The late rally was fueled by two goals from Megan Branstetter and one each from Amy Wilcox and Jana Knighton.
Following the game, coach Linda Gibson cited the team for not getting down on itself early and for coming back in the second half to play smarter.
In addition to citing Knighton and Branstetter for their offense, the coach lauded Melissa Haught and Brenna Zumbro for their spirited play.
In the jayvees' narrow win over the Lobos, Katie Plumb paced the Lady Horns with two goals. Gibson also tapped Kelsea Palace and Jessica Coleman for their contributions.
The junior varsity squad, Gibson said, "gets better and better with each game."
The varsity win ups the team's overall record to 6-1 and regional slate to 3-0. The jayvees sport 1-2 credentials.
The Lady Horns' strong showing so far has stamped the team a leading contender to advance to the state playoffs when the tournament begins Oct. 26 in Tucson.
White Mountain play
In the Show Low Invitational Tournament Sept. 7 and 8 at Show Low High School, the Lady Longhorns rolled past Round Valley (6-1), Camp Verde (2-1) and Chino Valley (1-0) to advance to the championship game against Sedona.
After battling to a 4-4 tie behind goals by Lori Wing, Hailee Byler, Jenny Cohen, Wilcox and Haught, the Horns were forced into an overtime showdown. Sedona scored in the first 10 minutes of OT to take a 5-4 lead. In the second 10 minutes, Payson rallied to dead-knot the score at 5-5.
Due to the tie, the tournament director called for a shootout to determine a champion.
In the shootout, five girls from each team were allowed penalty kicks at the opponent's goal which can be manned by any goalie chosen by the coach.
Unfortunately for Payson fans, Sedona claimed the tournament title by outscoring the Lady Horns 2-0. Gibson said, in five years of coaching, the shootout was the first one she's had a team participate in.
Although her team was denied the tournament title, Gibson praised her players "for playing with their hearts and pulling together."
Branstetter, Knighton and Trista Carlton drew praise for their contributions.
Because she sprained her ankle in the win over Chino Valley, Carlton was held out for the Sedona game.
In a voting of coaches at the conclusion of the invitational, Branstetter, Carlton and LeeAnn Owens were named to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Horns return to action tomorrow (Wednesday) in Show Low. Game time against the Cougars is 4 p.m. (jayvee) and 6 p.m. (varsity) at Show Low High School.