Lady Longhorn soccer coach Amy Wilcox held out hope until the final day that her team would finish ranked among Division IV’s top eight in power points and earn a berth into the season-ending state tournament.
But yesterday, Oct. 22, the curtain closed on Payson’s season when the Arizona Interscholastic Association announced postseason seeding and the Lady Horns were not among those advancing.
PHS finished the campaign 6-6 and ninth in power point rankings, narrowly trailing St. Johns (6-6-1), the tournament’s eighth and final seed.
After watching PHS wrap up the regular season Oct. 18 with a 5-1 win over Arizona College Prep, Wilcox held on to a glimmer of postseason hope, “I think we still have a chance. St. Johns is the team we have to worry about right now.
But, alas, the Lady Horns didn’t earn the precious few points needed to pass the Redskins and PHS is left on the outside looking in.
While disappointment of not advancing lingers, the season did end on a good note with the Lady Horns dominating Arizona College Prep by four goals.
ACP opened strong, scoring in the eighth minute of the game, mostly because PHS was slow out of the gate.
“We were just not clicking and couldn’t connect a pass or control a ball,” said Wilcox. “We had a defensive breakdown and one ball got by us.”
That miscue prompted Wilcox to make some changes, “I pulled some of our starters so they could clear their heads and try to get focus.”
The strategy worked as the substitutes played strong and tied up the game after being on the field for just one minute.
“They did exactly what I had asked,” Wilcox said. “I told them they needed to clean up their game and pull our team together.
“After that, we raised our level to where it should have been.”
With the new direction, the Lady Horns scored two more goals to take a 3-1 lead going into halftime.
The onslaught continued in the second half with PHS tacking on a pair of insurance goals.
The rally excited Wilcox, “The great thing about this game is that our team gathered together and played unselfishly.”
Liz Harpe, Natalie Moceri, Nidia Vega, Macy Dailey and Chelsea Frewin, all seniors, scored the Lady Horns goals.