Excitement reigned as Payson's Independence Day Men's Soccer Tournament had to be decided July 4 in a dramatic do-or-die shoot-out.
Incinerators and the Samba -- a pair of Scottsdale teams that have long been rivals in the holiday tournament -- tied 2-2 in regulation play of the gold-medal finale.
To decide the champion, rules called for a shoot-out in which both teams alternated five shots each from 12 yards in front of the goal.
Each squad was allowed to defend with a lone goalkeeper.
On the Incinerators' first shot, Scottsdale star goalie Vincente DeVuono shrugged off the pressure of the tense situation to deflect the line drive attempt. That defensive effort eventually proved to be the difference in the shoot-out as the two teams made good on their next nine attempts.
With the 5-4 triumph, Samba players celebrated their second Payson Independence Day championship.
In the three-day tournament, which kicked off July 2 on both Rumsey Park multipurpose fields, the six teams locked horns in round-robin play.
The format awarded six points for a victory, three points for a tie and none for a loss. Each goal scored earned a team an additional point to a maximum of three. A shut-out was also worth one point. The most points a team could rack up each game was 10 with a maximum of 50 for the tournament.
Samba carded 36 points to take first in the round robin. Incinerators were runners-up with 33 points. The Sand Dragons posted 32, Calizo had 24 and Payson had 8. Mirage was the cellar-dweller garnering just four points.
Payson compiled a 1-4 win-loss record during the first two days of the tournament.
Because the Incinerators and Samba compiled the most points, the teams earned the right to advance to the championship showdown played under a clear, early morning sky on the Rumsey South field.
From the onset, the two veteran teams showed no ill effects of having played five games in two days.
"The pace was fast," Payson team member and former tournament chairman Lee Woods said. "Each team came out determined."
Samba jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the Incinerators rebounded just before halftime to tie the game.
Midway through the second half, Samba took a 2-1 lead and appeared to be well on its way to a win in regulation play.
Samba's strategy to rely on defense turned ill fated when its lead was wiped out in the dying minutes of the game. A last gasp Incinerator goal attempt soared past the goalie into the net.
The game went into overtime.
Woods congratulated both teams for their standout championship game efforts and said the annual Rim country tournament was a success.
"All the games were very close, exciting and a lot of fun," he said.
According to Woods, the Payson team will not try to revive the Labor Day tournament that was discontinued two years ago, but is discussing hosting a summer youth tournament.