A pair of familiar foes, the Lady Longhorns and Camp Verde Cowgirls, clash tomorrow (Saturday) in the semifinal round of the state soccer tournament.
Game time is 4 p.m. on the Udall Park East field in Tucson.
The two state semifinalists first met in a regular season game n Oct. 8 in Camp Verde. The squads battled in what turned out to be one of the most hotly contested showdowns of the season. Held in a 1-1 deadlock most of the game, Camp Verde scored the winning goal in the last minute on a penalty kick.
“That was a tough game to lose,” first-year coach Randy Wilcox said.
Even tougher to absorb was a 3-2 defeat in the 2001 state tournament when the Lady Horns were coached by Linda Gibson.
That loss to Camp Verde ended Payson’s state title hopes.
“There’s some history between these two teams,” Wilcox said.
The Lady Horns’ aspirations for the school’s first state soccer championship will once again be on the line when Payson and CV meet tomorrow.
The key to a Lady Horn victory might be a defense led by Jenny Cohen.
“Camp Verde has a scoring machine, No. 15 the girl can score from any place inside midfield,” Wilcox said.
During the practice week, Wilcox has focused on devising a game plan that will slow the CV scorer.
The scheme involves having Cohen defend the Camp Verde scoring threat over most of the field.
Wilcox, a former basketball coach, describes the defensive scheme as similar to a man-to-man ploy fans might see being used in a hoop game.
“We used that defense in the first game and held her scoreless,” Wilcox said.
If the Lady Horns can find a way to slip past CV, Payson would advance for the first time in the history of the Lady Horn soccer program to the state championship game.
That clash is on tap for Nov. 9 at a time to be determined. The game site would be Udall Park where the entire tournament has been contested.
On to state
Payson advanced to the state semifinal round after dead knotting with St. Johns for the Rim region championship and then winning a first round state tournament game against Chino Valley.
In that 1-0 triumph, chalked up Nov. 2, Amy Wilcox scored the only goal of the game 78 minutes into the showdown.
The shot, which came from about 10 yards out after an assist from Megan Branstetter, trickled past the outstretched arms of the Chino goalie.
“The goalie got a hand on it but couldn’t stop it,” coach Wilcox said.
With the Lady Horn offense struggling to get untracked most of the game, the team had to rely on a strong defensive effort for the victory.
“Chino Valley had only six shots. Our defense did a good job of keeping the ball away from our (goal) keeper,” Wilcox said.
Following the win, the coach tapped Amy Wilcox and Branstetter as co-players of the game.