Payson’s Talia Schaal kicks in a goal late in the first half against the Lady Roadrunners of Holbrook, Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the Rumsey Park soccer field.
The Lady Longhorn soccer team is advancing to the state tournament as the East’s No. 4 seed and will most likely be pitted against West champion and No. 1 seed, Tucson Desert Christian.
“I think it will be them, but I haven’t seen the AIA brackets yet,” coach Joe Schmidt said.
The state opening-round game will be played at 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31 on Field 7 at Tempe Sports Complex.
If the Lady Horns can pull of an upset over Desert Christian, they would move to a semifinal clash to be played at noon, Saturday, Nov. 1, also at Tempe Sports Complex.
The state championship finale is set for 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 8 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
For the state tournament, Blue Ridge could take the East’s No. 1 seed, Show Low could go as No. 2 and St. Johns possibly No. 3.
“Some teams are still playing games that matter for seeding,” Schmidt said.
The Lady Horns head to the postseason armed with an 8-7 overall record, 5-5 in the East Region.
The team wrapped up the regular season Oct. 21 at Rumsey Park with an 8-1 shellacking of winless Holbrook.
“The team was really clicking and passing well,” Schmidt said. “I pulled my forwards after the first 15 minutes to keep the score down.”
Because the game was designated senior appreciation day, the coach allowed them a rare treat.
“I let them pick which position to play starting the second half,” he said.
If there was a season highlight in 2008, it would be a three-game winning streak in mid-September. During it, the Lady Horns shut out Camp Verde, 1-0, Snowflake, 1-0, and Round Valley, 2-0.
Individually, the team has received stellar play from a number of athletes including Candice Ayers, Elizabeth Romberger, Claudia Hernandez, Blanca Valdez, Becca Branstetter and Natalie Black.
Facing Desert Christian in state’s opening round will be a tall order for the Lady Longhorns. The Tucson parochial school, 11-4-1 overall and 9-1 in the West Region, has outscored its opponents this season by a whopping 47-15 margin.
Three juniors — Haleigh Powell, Caitlin Duran and Kristin Andrews, lead the team offensively. Powell and Duran are also among the assist leaders in the West.
Goalkeeper Emily Holz, also a junior, is ranked second in the West in saves.