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The Northland Prep Spartans soccer team recorded its first victory of the season on Thursday, blanking the Payson Longhorns, 4-0, at Payson.

The Spartans, who now sit at 1-2 along with the Longhorns, dominated the first half with possession and productive attacks. Leadership from upperclassmen Joey Haertzen and Jakob Heitkamp was felt all over the midfield, allowing freshman forward Kyle Zigich to face Payson's goalkeeper twice and score both times.

Junior Tommy Aker also had a strong performance for the Spartans. He capitalized on a cross drive for the third goal of the first half.

The following 40 minutes intensified for the defense as Payson needed to get on the board; however, seniors Zach Martin and Kyle Conley and sophomore Liam Cashmore made a wall for Northland Prep. During the last stretch of the game, junior Jacob Marquez broke through Payson's defensive line, putting in the fourth and final goal of the 2A Conference matchup.

"The most obvious improvements from the last games have been on communication and self confidence," first-year Spartans head coach Eduyn Graterol said.

Northland Prep, which started a stretch of four road matches with the victory, travels to Grand Canyon to take on the Phantoms Saturday for a 11 a.m. contest.

Last season, the Spartans handed the Phantoms a 10-0 loss.

VOLLEYBALL

The Northland Prep Spartans notched their second consecutive straight-set victory on Thursday, toppling the Greyhills Academy Fightin' Knights in Tuba City, 3-0.

With the win, the 2A Spartans improved to a 3-0 record to start the season. A week ago, they beat Bourgade Catholic in three sets.

Northland Prep will start the Coconino Classic tournament with a match against the Flagstaff Eagles today at 2:30 p.m.

After playing its first three matches of the regular season away from home, the Spartans play host for the first time this year when they open the Central Region schedule with the Glendale Prep Griffins Monday at 6 p.m.

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Cody Bashore serves as the beat writer for Northern Arizona University basketball and football in addition to covering high school sports around Flagstaff for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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