Lady Horns Reap All-Region Tributes

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A foursome of Lady Longhorn players have been named to the All-Rim Region soccer first team.

The four - along with second team selections and those who received honorable mention were presented certificates by coach Randy Wilcox at the team’s season-ending awards banquet Dec. 2 at Payson Elementary School.

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Payson High School girls soccer coach Randy Wilcox (center) is surrounded by Lady Longhorn soccer team members Lori Shepherd, Kelsea Palace, Jenny Cohen and Amy Wilcox. The four were among the team members to earn all-region honors in a voting of coaches.

Kelsea Palace, Jenny Cohen Trista Carlton and Amy Wilcox were named to the first team in a voting of region coaches.

Second team members included Laura Crabtree, Megan Branstetter and Kody Kepp. Hailee Byler and Lori Shepherd were named honorable mention athletes.

For Carlton and Amy Wilcox -he coach’s daughter - the all-region selection came on the heels of their selection to the 1A-3A All-State Tournament team.

Amy Wilcox also received the Lady Horns’ “Top Gun” citation for leading the team in scoring with 12 goals. Her selection marked the second consecutive year she has shot her way to the award.

Along with being a prolific scorer, the junior left winger proved to be a well-rounded contributor to the Payson soccer effort.

“She is a great team player who has a knack for the game,” coach Wilcox said.

The Lady Longhorns Most Valuable Player trophy was awarded to Carlton, a senior, who played the sweeper position. In presenting Carlton the award, Wilcox said she was “a hard worker who cleaned up a lot of our mistakes and did a good job of keeping the ball away from the goalie.”

Although Cohen was a capable scorer, she was selected to the region first team as a defensive midfielder. Wilcox praised the junior speedster as “an all-around player who was always one of the fastest kids on the field.” In addition to starring in soccer, Cohen is a member of the Lady Longhorn track and field team.

Palace, a sophomore, played the attacking midfielder position for Payson. In addition to first team laurels, she was named the Lady Horns Most Improved Player at the awards ceremony. “She was involved in a lot of plays,” the coach said. “She was always around the ball.”

As second team members, Crabtree played stopper and Branstetter held down the right forward position. Both are seniors.

Kepp, a sophomore, was the team’s goal keeper. Kepp proved to be especially valuable at the position after last year’s starting goalie, Brenna Zumbro, decided to give up soccer to devote full time to softball.

As honorable mention athletes, Byler played left fullback and Shepherd was the team’s right fullback. Both are sophomores.

The nine all-region honorees formed the nucleus of the Lady Longhorn team that played its way to a 10-7 record and a third-place finish in the state tournament.

A 1-0 semifinal loss to Camp Verde eliminated Payson from the 1A-3A state showdown. The highlight of the tournament for Payson was the team’s 1-0 opening round win over Chino Valley.

With 5-0-1 regular season region credentials, the Lady Horns tied with St. Johns for the Rim title. St. Johns eventually won the 1A-3A state championship whipping Camp Verde 1-0 in the finale.

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