DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four 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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Make room for another soccer trophy

Earning an athletic trophy never gets old. Xavier has many of them, but the Gators always are willing to add another to their collection.
It happened again on Monday (Dec. 29), when XCP captured ninth place in the 32-team Excalibur Invitational, winning the Guinevere bracket with a 2-1 victory over Mission Viejo, Calif.
“It was awesome,’’ said Gators coach Barb Chura. “We came home with some hardware.’’
“It was a tough, very competitive tournament. Back to front, we played as a team. The quality of the competition definitely will prepare us for the long haul and get us ready for our own state tournament in Arizona.’’
The Gators were supposed to play Scripps Ranch from the San Diego area earlier on Monday, but advanced to the bracket final after Scripps announced that it was going to forfeit.
Xavier opened the tournament on Friday (Dec. 26) with a shootout win over Mater Dei of Los Angeles, then fell to Buchanan of Fresno (Calif.) in a shootout.  The Gators also defeated Westview of California in a shootout on Saturday (Dec. 27), setting up Monday’s games.
Senior Tessa Zaccagnio scored Xavier’s first goal against Mission Viejo.  She scored in all of the Gators’ games in the tournament. Senior Kendall Ward scored the game-winner with about five minutes left in regulation.
Chura called Ward’s effort “one of the best goals I’ve seen.’’
Zaccagnio was named to the All-Tournament Team, quite a prestigious honor, given the quality of players participating. Chura said the only other Xavier player to earn that honor was Samantha Bidwill, a 2010 graduate.
“Tessa earned it. She played fantastic all the way through,’’ Chura said.
Chura added that the Gators “measured up against some of the best teams out there. It gave us a lot of confidence. We learned what our strengths really are and what we need to work on. So we will be able to enjoy this for a little while.’’
Xavier’s next game is Jan. 6 at their Petznick Field home, against Phoenix Camelback. It will be a 6 p.m. start.

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