Are The British Coming? Who Knows

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The goal of Payson High School soccer coaches Amy Wilcox and Chris Avakian is to open the 2012 season with a British Soccer Specialist Team Camp.

But before that can happen, there are big challenges to overcome for both coaches.

Avakian says his reservations about British Soccer hosting a preseason camp July 30 to Aug. 3 center on a lack of field space.

The coach says the preferable campsite is the Rumsey Park North multipurpose field, but it is being used camp week by local youth football.

“They (Northern Arizona Youth Football League) get the field and Amy and I get what’s left over,” Avakian said.

For Wilcox, the problem is not field space but cost.

“We are trying to figure out if we can afford it through our club (fund),” she said. “We’d sure like to have them come, if we can pay for it.”

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“We are trying to figure out if we can afford it through our club. We’d sure like to have them come, if we can pay for it.” Amy Wilcox PHS soccer coach

Junior varsity coach Randy Wilcox, Amy’s father, says they do not want to ask the players to foot the bill for the camp because the athletes are already paying a $200 pay-to-play fee to the school and asking for more (money) “is not right.”

Parents with more than one child involved in sports can pay $400 per year.

Avakian says he hopes to overcome British American camp fees by finding local soccer club sponsors.

Even if sponsors can be found, Avakian is not sure how the field space issue can be worked out.

British American officials would like the two teams to share one field but Avakian says that is not a good solution, especially in light of the fees being paid for the camp.

Neither Wilcox or Avakian are certain how the problems will be rectified, nor if British American will participate, but says there will be a team camp during the season-opening week July 30-Aug. 3. British American has been hosting camps in Payson since 2008, the last of which was in June.

Those, however, are geared more to younger players, some 3 to 4 years old.

The High School Specialist Team Camp is designed to prepare older players for the prep season by teaching individual skills and techniques. The camps also focus on general team concepts and individual roles within the team.

Soccer surprises

The boys soccer team is coming off a banner season in which it advanced to the state tournament semifinals with huge upsets over Snowflake, 3-1, and Wilcox 1-0.

In the final four, the Horns found themselves pitted against a Blue Ridge team that was on a 55-game winning streak, which is believed to be the nation’s longest, and had outscored its opponents by a mind-boggling 118-7 margin.

Although Blue Ridge extended its win streak with a 3-1 victory over Payson, the Horns turned in a Herculean effort in which they scored their only goal of the year, in three games, against the vaunted Yellow Jacket defense.

Following the loss, Avakian predicted the future was bright, mostly because 17 letter-winners would return for 2012.

Only three starters, Sam Grassel, Keith Williams and Tyler Aguirre will not return to the team. All graduated from PHS with the Class of 2012.

Returnees Noe Vega, Logan Morris and Guillermo Lopez were all-section and all-division honorees last season.

Near miss for Lady Horns

Last season, the Lady Longhorns narrowly missed a berth into the postseason after dropping a 5-2 decision to Snowflake in the regular season finale.

Until then, the Lady Horns were hoping they could accumulate the power points needed to earn a coveted state seed.

Although the team didn’t advance, it enjoyed some banner moments during the campaign including a 6-0 late-season win over Chino Valley.

“This was a great game for us,” Wilcox said at the time. “It was a team effort, we had 20 shots to Chino Valley’s seven.”

Through the year, the Lady Horns received stellar performances from Liz Harpe, Nida Vega, Sage Pierce, Macy Dailey, Lydia Galster, Alayna Hauptman and others.

Although the Lady Horn camp future is uncertain, Wilcox continues to host preseason training session 5 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday on the Rumsey South field.

At 9 a.m., Saturday, July 21 at Rumsey, the team will host its annual alumni game, which will pit current players against former Lady Horn team members.

Alumni players are being asked to wear black or dark-colored jerseys.

There will be a barbecue for all following the game.

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