Lady Longhorn soccer coach Joe Schmidt and his charges can be excused for being more than a bit weary.
After all, the team opened the 2008 season by playing a grueling six games in five days.
Following the stint, Schmidt said he was elated he had instituted two-a-day practices in the preseason because the extra conditioning sessions helped prepare the girls for the rigors of the string of games.
The challenging stint kicked off Sept. 3 with a 3-2 non-region loss to the Show Low Cougars. Only two days later, the team returned to the White Mountains where it played in the Show Low Invitational.
In the Lady Horns' first game, PHS whipped Monument Valley 4-0. Later that day, Payson improved to 2-0 in the tournament with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Chino Valley.
At the conclusion of the first day of play, the Lady Horns stood in third place with 14 tournament points.
Points were awarded for goals scored, shutouts and victories.
On the second day, the Lady Horns dropped a 2-1 decision to a St. Johns Redskins team that was clinging onto first place.
"We controlled the first half and St. Johns controlled the second half, so we went to a shootout to break the tie," Schmidt said. "They won it, which dropped us to the fifth-sixth place game against Blue Ridge."
The Yellow Jackets dominated winning 6-0.
"They schooled us with excellent ball control and passing," Schmidt said. "The Chino Valley and St. Johns games were our best efforts so far this season."
The loss to the Yellow Jackets, however, was a lesson in futility.
"We had a let down," Schmidt said.
In a voting of tournament coaches, Becca Branstetter and Alexia Robles were chosen to the all-tournament team.
Branstetter was particularly effective against Chino Valley scoring the game winner on a 25-yard direct kick.
Following the team's return from Show Low, Payson played host Sept. 9 to St. Johns -- a game that did count in the East Region standings.
The Lady Horns took an early 1-0 lead on Tanya Olson's left-footed kick, but St. Johns came roaring back to win 2-1.
"We had several good shot opportunities from close range, but couldn't convert them," Schmidt said.
Among the underclassmen, the junior varsity team is winless but that hasn't dampened Schmidt's enthusiasm for the crew.
"Our jayvee team is probably the best I've had so far," Schmidt said.
"They are scoring well and showing a lot of game savvy for this time of the season."
The Lady Horns return to action today, Sept. 16, against the Snowflake Lobos. Game times are 4 p.m. (jayvee) and 6 p.m. (varsity) at Rumsey Park.