DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

XCP slips past Hamilton in tourney-like match

The soccer match had a state tournament feel. Every kick, every pass, every save, everything.

And in a battle of closely matched teams, Xavier Prep emerged triumphant with a 1-0 victory over visiting Chandler Hamilton at Petznick Field on Tuesday night (Jan. 9).

Xavier, playing its first home match of the new year, raised its overall record to 9-2, while Hamilton dropped to 10-5-1.

Xavier coach Barb Chura and assistant Rafael Rios knew Hamilton would be a formidable opponent. The Huskies appear to be similar to Xavier in some ways.

Hamilton was the aggressor early in the match, often beating the Gators to the ball and sending it out of trouble.

The Gators got the break they would need with 15:51 left in the first half when they scored a goal by sophomore Brynn Lebel after junior Kyla Ferry redirected the trajectory of the ball near the front of the goal for the assist.

Xavier’s defensive pace picked up after that, particularly in the second half, and made the goal stand up.

“They (Hamilton) had some chances to tie it, but we were able to keep them from scoring,’’ Chura said. “In the second half, we were able to put more pressure on them higher up the field.’’

The coach said senior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann had a fantastic game, making several key saves.

Another effort of note was by freshman midfielder Ololade Adebayo, who spent most of the match shadowing Olivia Knab, one of Hamilton’s top players. Adebayo is a fine all-around athlete who uses quickness and strength to her advantage.

Xavier next plays on Friday (Jan. 12) with a 4 p.m. match against Phoenix Pinnacle at Petznick Field. Pinnacle features one of the state’s top goalkeepers in Jalen Tompkins. Pinnacle is 10-2.

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