Randy Wilcox is celebrating his first win as the Lady Longhorn soccer coach.
The 3-0 triumph over Blue Ridge Sept. 12 at Rumsey Park pushes Payson's early season record to 1-1.
Sept. 3 at St. Johns, the Lady Horns dropped a 4-2 season opening decision to the defending state champion Redskins.
For Wilcox, the victory over Blue Ridge came as an unexpected, but pleasant, surprise. Only a few months ago, the Rim Country Middle School physical education teacher was content walking the sidelines watching his daughter, Amy, play in the PHS soccer program.
Unexpectedly, Lady Horn coach Linda Gibson decided to step down to devote more time to her family. Her resignation meant PHS athletic director Dave Bradley had to immediately begin a search to find a replacement for Gibson.
At the time, Bradley said finding a coach would be a tough task. After weeks of scouring the school district, Bradley convinced Wilcox to accept the position.
Because Wilcox, a former high school basketball coach, had coached the sport only in Town of Payson youth recreation leagues, he was at first reluctant to accept the varsity position. After mulling over the job offer for several days, Wilcox accepted.
"I'd like to maintain the integrity of the program put in place by coach Gibson," he said.
Last season, Gibson guided the team to the state semifinals.
The Lady Horns initial victory under their new coach was jump-started by the return of Trista Carlton.
Sidelined in the loss to St. Johns with an ankle injury, Carlton said she was healed and ready to play against the Yellow Jackets. Her return immediately paid dividends. In the first 20 minutes of play, she scored on an indirect kick from about 30 yards out.
Leading 1-0 in the second half, the Horns scored again on Lori Wing's corner kick off a pass from Krista LaHaye. Only minutes later, Wing scored again; this time from inside the six yard line on a volley shot to the corner of the net.
Following the clash, Wilcox named Wing, a sophomore, the player of the game.
In addition to showcasing a sizzling offense, the Lady Horn effort featured a defense that held Blue Ridge to 11 shots.
The defense, Wilcox said, was anchored by Laura Crabtree and Carlton.
The Lady Horns return to action tomorrow (Wednesday) against the Snowflake Lobos. Game time is 6 p.m. in Snowflake. The varsity contest will be preceded at 4 p.m. by a jayvee game.