The Longhorns got close.
Although Payson’s boys soccer season didn’t end the way they dreamed it might – with a state championship, it was a good year.
The Longhorns reached the 2A state tournament for the second straight season after a seven-year playoff drought.
And they gave the eventual state champion their stiffest test in a heartbreaking 1-0 opening-round/quarterfinal loss.
They lost 1-0 to eventual champ Blue Ridge in their only playoff game a year ago and fell 1-0 in the first game at Chino Valley this season.
Payson finished second to Chino Valley in the 2A Central standings.
The Longhorns’ talent showed as coaches voted for all-region and all-state teams.
A dozen Payson players were recognized on the All-2A Central Team.
Esgar Reyes earned Second-Team All-State accolades in voting for the 2A team by coaches.
Mike Dominguez and Easton Redford were honorable mention.
Reyes (F) was 2A Central Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. He joined Dominguez (D) and Redford (MF) on the All-2A Central First Team.
Reyes and Dominguez were voted to the All-2A Central First Team for the second straight year. Redford was voted to the all-region second team last year after earning honorable mention on the All-2A East team in 2019.
Reyes was a Second-Team All-2A East honoree as a sophomore. Dominguez was honorable mention all-region in 2019.
Sophomore Ben Menghini (D), senior Jacob Roberts (D), junior Braden Tenney (F) and junior Ismael Urquiza (MF) were voted to the all-region second team. Urquiza was voted to the all-region first team a year ago.
Sophomore Joey Clark (F), junior Eduardo Heras (MF), sophomore Aiden Meredith (D), junior Joel VanZile (MF) and senior Trent Winton (F) were honorable mention.
Payson went 11-5-1 overall this year, including a 2-1-1 record in the Show Low Invitational. They were 9-3 in the non-tournament regular-season games that count in the rankings. Payson finished second in the 2A Central Region at 5-1. Their only region loss came by a 3-0 score at home against eventual region champion and top-ranked Chino Valley, which went on to edge the #8 Longhorns 1-0 in the opening round/quarterfinals of the eight-team state tournament. The Cougars won two more games to claim the state championship.