The Payson High School boys and girls soccer teams will take impressive credentials to their battles tomorrow (Saturday) against Chino Valley.
Coach Randy Wilcox and his Lady Longhorns boast a 5-3 record (3-0 in the region) and have ensured themselves of a berth in the state tournament when it begins Nov. 1.
Coach Roger Wholly's Longhorns sport a 12-2 mark (3-1 in the region) and are fresh off a championship win in the Payson Invitational Sept. 27 and 28 at Rumsey Park.
Although the Horns are not yet assured a state berth, the team could do so with wins over Holbrook (Oct. 9) and Round Valley (Oct. 16).
Tomorrow, at Chino Valley High School, a junior varsity game begins at 11 a.m.; a varsity clash follows at 1 p.m..
At Rumsey park, jayvee and varsity boys games will also be played at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
At the six-team Payson Invitational, the Longhorns defeated Tucson Pusch Ridge 2-0 in the championship finale. After a scoreless 70 minutes, Danny Wing propelled the Horns out to a 1-0 lead when he scored on a cross shot from the right corner. Minutes later, Travis Sanders tacked on an insurance goal with a kick from outside the 18-yard line.
In the championship bracket semifinal, Payson blanked rival Snowflake 3-0.
On the first day of the tournament, which was conducted in two pools of three teams each, Payson beat Benson 6-1 and Valley Lutheran 4-0. Against Pusch Ridge, the Horns had to settle for a 0-0 tie.
Following the fray, the coach said goalie Mark Hillegas was outstanding.
"He allowed only one goal the entire tournament," Wholly said.
Lady Horns stumble
After chalking up an impressive 3-0 regional win over highly regarded Show Low Sept. 25, the Lady Horns appeared to be regional title contenders.
That win ensured Payson a berth in the postseason.
But only three days later in Lakeside, the Lady Longhorns fell to the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets 3-2.
Fortunately for Payson, the game because it was played on a Saturday will not count in the region standings. Only Wednesday games are used in the standings because every team in the region does not play one another both a home and away game.
After watching his Lady Longhorns fall behind the Yellow Jackets 3-0, Wilcox said the stanza was "our ugliest half of soccer this season."
Throughout the period, the players struggled with the fundamentals they have worked on since the onset of the campaign.
"We couldn't trap, pass or shoot to save our lives," Wilcox said. At half-time, Payson had taken only seven shots.
In the second half, the Lady Longhorns regained their composure.
About 20 minutes into the period, Jenny Cohen fed a pass to Amy Wilcox who scored on a 20-yard left footed kick.
At about the 81st minute, Wilcox scored again on a direct kick from 21 yards out.
Although Payson pulled to within one on the scoreboard, the Lady Horns could never muster the tying goal.
For Amy Wilcox's offensive efforts, she was tapped the player of the game.