Nic Creighton’s goal in the 68th minute lifted the Longhorn boys soccer team to a 1-0 victory over the homestanding Round Valley Elks.
With the win Sept. 20 in Eagar, Payson improves to 5-3-1 overall and 1-1 in the East Region.
An elated PHS coach Chad Gower described the game-winning goal as, “a corner kick from Dakoda Wholly was knocked out to midfield and fed back in by Todd Runyan, that found the head of Nic at the six-yard box to beat the RV goalie for the first and only score.”
Runyan was credited with an assist.
As exciting as the game-winning play was for the coach and the players, it was goalie Keith Williams’ stellar performance that buoyed the Horns all afternoon.
“If not for his play in the net, we would have lost the game,” Gower said. “He saved us from falling way behind.”
The coach called the 0-0 halftime score sheer luck mostly because Payson started slowly and was inept offensively allowing the Elks “to shoot twice as many shots and most were on net.”
Round Valley, he added, considered the first half a win for them.
In the second half, the stagnant Longhorns came alive behind the strong midfield play of Jerry Renteria, Wyatt MacRae and Wholly.
“They were feeding the forwards with many opportunities to score,” Gower said.
Next up for the Longhorns is the Payson Boys Soccer Tournament to be held Sept. 26 and 27 at Rumsey Park. In the field will be 12 teams from around the state.
Payson opens at 8 a.m. Sept. 26 against Chino Valley.