After finishing 1-1-1 in pool play of the Third Annual Queen Creek Invitational Boys Soccer Tournament, the Payson Longhorns rebounded to win three consecutive games and the championship of the event's consolation bracket.
The team's come-from-behind effort drew accolades from Longhorn coach Roger Wholly.
"It took all 19 players to get us to the final game," Wholly said. "They all played tough."
On the opening day of the tournament, Sept. 21, the Horns kicked off play by dead-knotting Tucson Pusch Ridge, 1-1.
In second-round play, Phoenix Country Day School ran past the Horns 2-0.
"Those were the two best teams in the tournament. They played for the championship," Wholly said.
Late Friday afternoon, Payson picked up its first tournament win by whipping St. Paul, a parochial school, 6-0.
Saturday, Payson was seeded into the consolation bracket where it opened with a 15-0 thumping of Whiteriver Alchesay.
A later clash against Grace Christian ended in a 2-2 tie before Payson emerged victorious in a shootout.
The Horns final tournament win, a 2-1 victory over regional rival Snowflake, was especially sweet for the PHS players since the Lobos had beaten the Horns 3-2 Sept. 12.
Wholly said Ryan Peters and Nick Sanders made incredible contributions to the team.
Peters, he said, turned in an outstanding offensive showing by scoring the winning goal in the clash against Grace Christian. Peters got the team off and running in the win over Snowflake by scoring Payson's opening goal, the coach said.
Sanders was honored, Wholly said, "for his strength at the net allowing only a one goal per game average during the tournament."
The team returns to play at noon, tomorrow (Saturday), in Chino Valley.
Against Show Low
Unable to score in the first half against Show Low, the Horns saw the Cougars cash in on a pair scoring opportunities.
"Show Low (scored) on an indirect kick at the 6-yard box and later on a penalty kick," coach Wholly said.
Early in the second half, Payson came roaring back to close the lead to 2-1.
"In the first five minutes, Travis Sanders was fouled inside Show Low's 18-yard box and scored on a penalty kick," Wholly said.
That, however, was the closest Payson could ever get to the hard charging cats
"Show Low rallied to score five goals after we scored," Wholly said.
Undaunted by the lopsided tally on the scoreboard, the Horns continued to battle.
"Not giving up even in the face of defeat, Rob Jones gained possession of the ball in the attacking third of the field," Wholly said. "(He) shot from the 18-yard line and pushed it past Show Low's goalie."