The Longhorn soccer team ended its 2012 season this weekend with a bronze medal from state competition.
Guess three is the Payson soccer team’s number.
For the third time, the boys soccer team is third in Arizona after it lost to Desert Christian this past weekend in the state playoffs.
“We basically outplayed them, but we couldn’t catch a break,” said Coach Chris Avakian, “I guess it wasn’t supposed to be.”
The final blow to the tightly played game came in the first of two overtimes when one of Payson’s own defenders accidentally knocked the ball into the net behind the goalie to score one for Desert Christian.
“The winning goal banked off of a Payson defender and went in,” said center fullback John Buskirk.
Both Avakian and Buskirk said the Payson team dominated the game, but bad luck ruled the day despite the rousing music of the Payson High School marching band that drove down to Campo Verde High School in Gilbert to support the soccer team.
Buskirk said the Payson team had not played against Desert Christian in the regular season, but they had played them once before in the tournament.
“They were seeded as number one in the tournament,” said Buskirk.
But he also said the goals Desert Christian scored were lucky.
Avakian said that in the first half of play, Payson scored one and Desert Christian scored two.
In the second half, the scores reversed with Payson scoring twice and Desert Christian once.
Then, in the first of two overtime plays, Desert Christian scored the extra goal.
“Then they put everyone on defense,” said Avakian.
The Payson team just could not break the phalanx of Desert Christian players.
Buskirk, a senior this year, said the Payson team has 16 seniors who have played together since their freshman year. He had hoped the team would have improved its standing in the state with so many longtime players on the team.
“It’s always hard to lose when its that close,” said Buskirk, “But we still had a good season.”
The boys worked hard this year, said Buskirk, practicing everyday after school for two hours.
Avakian has regrets the team did not get the chance to go up against Blue Ridge.
“We would have beat them,” said the coach.
Yet overall Avakian is proud of his team.
“They had a lot of shots, and put their heart and determination in the game,” said Avakian. “We’ve matured together as a team.”