The annual Lady Longhorn alumni vs. varsity soccer matches almost always turn into barnburners capped by pulsating, nail-biting finishes.
In last year’s clash, with the scored dead-knotted 2-2 and the game clock winding down to the final few seconds, April Quinlan scored on a dazzling clutch goal that gave the alumni a 3-2 win over the varsity.
In the 2012 game, played July 21 at Rumsey Park, the two teams battled on even terms to a 1-1 tie in regulation.
Natalie Moceri scored for the varsity and Michelle Wing for the alumni.
With the dead-knot, a shootout was called for to determine a winner.
The alumni were awarded the first shot on goal and the two teams took turns until each squad had finished five attempts.
When the dust finally settled, the alumni outscored the varsity 3-1 to record a second consecutive hard-fought victory.
“It was a good game, an exciting game,” said PHS coach Amy Wilcox.
In regulation play and the shootout, Alix Parker handled goalie duties for the varsity.
For the alumni, Natalie Black, Marissa Garcia and Elena Hauptman rotated at goalie.
Following the traditional showdown, players and alumni gathered at the park’s main ramada for a barbecue lunch prepared by Gerardo Moceri and Kendrick Francis.
Wilcox called the event “very successful,” saying she overheard alumni telling one another, “it’s good to get back together and see our (former) teammates.”
Most exciting for Wilcox was a record-setting turnout of 20 alumni, including herself. She was a former Lady Horn star before taking her considerable skills to Paradise Valley Community College and then to Eastern New Mexico University.
During her Payson High School career, from 2000 to 2004, she was a four-year letter winner in soccer and one of the team’s leading scorers. She earned all-state tournament honors her sophomore season and was an all-region selection as a junior and senior.
Next month, Wilcox begins her third season at the helm of the girls soccer program with high hopes of qualifying for a state playoff slot that the team narrowly missed out on last year.
Her father, Randy, a Rim Country Middle School physical education teacher, will assist as the junior varsity coach.