Lady Longhorns Natalie Black (left) and Laura Aaltonen surround an opponent right after the ball is put into play during the final regular-season game against the Holbrook Roadrunners.
Although the 3A state championship tournament bracket has not yet been seeded, it appears the Lady Longhorns will be advancing to the big show as the East’s No. 4 seed.
If that occurs as anticipated, the Lady Horns will play at 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30 at Tempe Sports Complex against the West Region’s No. 1 seed.
The Lady Horns wrapped up the regular season and nailed down the probable state bid Oct. 21 at Rumsey Park with a 6-0 win over the Holbrook Roadrunners.
As elated as coach Joe Schmidt is with the state berth, all is not well in the Lady Horn camp.
“I am missing eight players due to injuries, illness and suspensions,” he said. “Our defense is a bit thin as a result.”
Among those injured are Natalie Moceri and Sarah Cluff.
“Natalie is getting X-rays on her ankle to see whether it is sprained or broken, and Sarah is out this week with a broken big toe,” Schmidt said.
Moceri tweaked her ankle Oct. 17 in Payson’s 3-2 win over the Snowflake Lobos.
In the victory, the Lady Horns jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two breakaway goals by by Tanya Olsen.
But the Lobos came roaring back in the second half tying the score 2-2.
“Snowflake recovered and began playing much more aggressively,” Schmidt said.
With 15 minutes remaining in regulation, the one-two punch of Olsen and Becca Branstetter scored the winning goal.
“Tanya made a great cross from the corner to Becca who scored,” Schmidt said.
Although the team returned from Lobo land with a “W,” the coach remains concerned with the players’ physical conditioning.
“We looked tired in the second half due to the heat and not much training over fall break,” he said.
The coach cited Alayna Hauptman and Blanca Valdez for their contributions.
“Alayna played well in her first full game at goal despite getting kicked and knocked down repeatedly he said.
“Blanca disrupted many Snowflake attacks and started counterattacks.”