Hoping to sew up a berth in the state tournament, the Longhorn boys soccer hosts Round Valley Oct. 16 at Rumsey Park.
A win over the regional rival Elks would be a giant step toward playing in the postseason clash that begins Nov. 1.
Since the onset of the campaign in early September, coach Roger Wholly and his charges have focused on earning a playoff spot and then playing as deep into the tournament as possible.
Last season, the team qualified for state, but was eliminated in the first round.
The Horns (4-1 in the region and 12-2-1 overall) tuned up for Round Valley and a stretch run at the postseason with a 5-1 victory over Chino Valley Oct. 5 at Rumsey.
Payson wasted little time in jumping on visiting Chino. In the fifth minute of play, Michael Orozco scored on an assist from Daniel Reisdorf. In the 12th minute, exchange student Robert Gessler upped the Payson lead to 2-0 on assists from Travis Sanders and Patrick Karlowski.
Also scoring for Payson were Trevor LaHaye and Andrew Karlowski.
Chino Valley's only score came after a Payson player fouled and Chino Valley was awarded a penalty kick. Kyle Asmundson, the junior varsity goalie who was sent to varsity for the game, couldn't deflect the kick.
In junior varsity action, also at Rumsey, the Longhorns evened their record at 2-1-2 with a 2-1 victory over Chino Valley.
Coaches cited Derek Wimpee, Eric Monty, Brett Hollobaugh, David Cluff, Jeff Bielke, Michael Fanizza, Lance Chabot and Dustin Ammann for their efforts in the win.