Lady Longhorns Kayla Francis and Becca Branstetter have been named to the prestigious All-East Region first team for their stellar performances during the recently concluded soccer season.
Also for Payson, Marissa Garcia was chosen All-East second team and Tanya Olson and Kyndel Lann tapped honorable mention.
The players selected were chosen in a voting of coaches at season’s end.
For Branstetter, a senior two-year captain, the honor marked the second successive season she has been chosen East first team.
At the onset of this campaign, coach Joe Schmidt moved her to a forward position from the midfield slot she held down last year.
She responded by leading the team in scoring with 13 goals. She also finished with three assists.
“Her ability to score while tightly marked or double team earned her the ‘Golden Boot’ award,” Schmidt said. “Becca will be continuing her soccer career at the college level as she is being recruited by several schools.”
Francis was also a senior and team captain. She was chosen first team at sweeper, or the player assigned to run the defense.
At the Lady Horns season-ending awards ceremony, she received “The Wall” team award as the outstanding defensive player. She was earlier voted to the 1A-3A All-State Tournament team.
Garcia played defensive midfield most of season, but scored four points.
“She was recognized for her aggressive defense and chasing down every play,” Schmidt said. “Her hustle and determination to never give up earned her the team’s ‘Relentless Award.’”
Olsen, a junior and the only underclassmen to receive honors, was injured almost half the season, but still performed well enough to earn opposing coaches’ attention.
“She was the second leading scorer with six goals and three assists,” Schmidt said.
At season’s end she received Payson’s “Twinkle Toes Award” for her outstanding footwork.
Lann played wing and scored four points.
“Her aggressive play and strong defense earned her the team ‘Strong Side Award,’” said Schmidt.
Although the Lady Horns lose four seniors to graduation, there is a strong junior class and several promising younger players ready to move to varsity and fill the departed players’ shoes.
However, Schmidt will not be leading the new group next season.
“I am stepping down as head coach,” he said.
Under Schmidt, the team advanced to the state tournament five consecutive seasons.