A soccer season that kicked off in August with promise and potential ended Oct. 22 in the heartbreak of defeat.
The greatest hurt in that 4-1 loss to homestanding Holbrook was that it eliminated the Horns (10-9-1) from the postseason playoffs. The defeat also continued a four-game losing streak that plagued Payson at the end of the season.
With a 3-4 East record, the Longhorns have to settle for fifth place in the eight-team region.
The East’s four playoff spots will go to region champion Blue Ridge, runner-up Holbrook, third place Show Low and Snowflake, the final qualifier.
The tournament begins Oct. 31 at Tempe Sports Complex with the East qualifiers pitted against the South’s top four in the opening round. The championship of the 16-team tournament will be decided at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 8 at Grand Canyon University.
Although the season was not what coach Chad Gower had hoped for early on when he greeted the largest contingent ever to turn out for the team, there were some highpoints.
In late September, the team went on a three-game winning streak whipping Round Valley, Holbrook and St. Michael.
After two losses, the Horns rebounded for another three-game sweep beating St. Johns, Valley Lutheran and Round Valley.
But the Oct. 1 win over RV was the final thrill of victory the Horns would enjoy.
Individually, the Horn team featured several players who excelled; including Phillip Leibundgut, Shane Crisp, Jerry Renteria and Dakoda Wholly.
With the season at an end, the players now have the option of turning their attention to either basketball or wrestling or continuing soccer play in Valley club leagues