Hot Shots Blister Competition In Flagstaff League

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For Payson Hot Shots girls soccer team coach Grant Kepp, last summer's eight Saturday trips to Flagstaff and twice-a-week practice sessions were well worth the effort.

"We spent a lot of time traveling, practicing and playing, but because the girls are so dedicated, giving up that time was easy," he said.

Competing in Flagstaff's America Youth Soccer Organization's 15-years-and-under girls soccer league, the Hot Shots compiled an 8-0 record.

In winning the league championship, the Hot Shots were never seriously challenged.

"We were only scored upon once," Kepp said.

Six teams from Flagstaff joined teams from Williams and the Payson team in the league, which played on Saturdays at Peak View Park.

The Hot Shots, who were playing for the first time in an AYSO league, began in the last Grand Canyon State Games. At the conclusion of those games, several of the players approached Kepp and asked to keep the team intact.

"How could I turn them down?" he asked.

The purpose in keeping the team together was to allow the girls the opportunity to improve their game, Kepp said.

On the Hot Shots are eight girls who are sophomores and five freshmen at Payson High School. The other three are eighth graders at Rim Country Middle School.

Most of the high school contingent is now involved in preseason tryouts for the Lady Longhorn soccer team.

"They are looking forward to the high school season," Kepp said.

Next spring, Kepp plans to keep the tradition of the Hot Shots alive by entering a club team in a youth league that will feature teams from Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Prescott and Flagstaff.

But, before Kepp can completely signal the end of the arduous season, he has some words of thanks for parents, fans and supporters of the team.

"Without them, this never would have been possible," he said.

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