Nidia Vega (right) is a hard-charging Lady Longhorn soccer player who always gets into the mix of things with outstanding hustle and rallies her teammates with clutch plays as one of the team’s primary leaders.
Photo by Andy Towle.
The Lady Longhorn soccer team’s postseason fate could rest on the result of an Oct. 18 clash in Snowflake.
That’s because Payson (3-4) is now sitting eighth in power point rankings and eight teams from Division IV’s 12 schools will advance to the state tournament set to begin Oct. 28 at Quail Run Complex in Mesa.
An upset win over the homestanding Lobos could supply enough points for the Lady Horns to remain in tournament contention, but a loss might drop the team out of consideration.
“I’m hoping a win will get us in,” said head coach Amy Wilcox.
The Lobos (3-6) are currently ranked seventh in power points with 29.3767 — well ahead of the Lady Horns who have 24.0852 points.
Camp Verde, with 24.0852 power points, is ranked ninth and one of the teams who could overtake the Lady Horns in the race for the postseason.
PHS could have picked up valuable power points on Oct. 11 against St. Augustine Catholic High, but the school cancelled its soccer program earlier this year and the game was not played.
Payson did play on Oct. 8 at Rumsey Park vs. Show Low, but came up on the short end of a 3-1 score.
The Lady Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first half and held on for the victory.
Natalie Moceri scored Payson’s lone goal on a free kick from about 20 yards away.
Junior varsity coach Randy Wilcox, the head coach’s father, expressed optimism with the team’s effort against a Cougar crew that is 7-2 and state third ranked.
“They won the first half and we won the second,” he said. “Also, we held them scoreless in the second half.”
Nidia Vega, Savannah Grassel, Lydia Galster and Natalie Moceri are among the team leaders coaches are singling out for fueling the Lady Horn effort throughout the season.
If the Lady Horns whip Snowflake and edge into the playoffs as a No. 8 seed, the team would most likely play No. 1 seeded St. Johns (8-2), which would be a tough challenge.
If Payson and St. Johns do meet, the two teams will be no strangers to one another.
Last year, when both schools were aligned in the now defunct 3A East region, the Redskins mauled the Lady Horns 7-1 in the regular season.
But in the first round of the state tournament in Gilbert, Payson gave the Skins all they could deal with before falling 2-0.
St. Johns clung to a precarious 1-0 lead most of the game and did not score its second and insurance goal until less than a minute remained.
On the junior varsity level, Randy Wilcox’s charges are just 2-1-1 and have had several games cancelled because opponents did not field junior varsity teams.
“When we were in the 3A East, every school had a junior varsity team, but now very few of the schools have jayvees,” he said.
In AIA realignment, the former conference-region configuration was done away with at the onset of this school year and replaced with divisions and sections.
The Lady Horns are aligned in Division IV, which also contains some smaller, parochial schools that do not have lower level sports programs mostly because of limited enrollments.
If the Lady Horns do advance to state, the second round is set for Oct. 29, the semifinal is on Nov. 4 and the state championship will be Nov. 5.