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.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Soccer team picks up second straight shutout

XCP soccer coach Barb Chura and her players were looking forward to playing Friday night’s (Dec. 12) home match against Tucson Salpointe Catholic.
“Salpointe had been playing for a while,’’ Chura said. “They had four or five wins (actually five) and only one loss and they had been scoring a lot of goals. They are really organized and always give us a tough match.’’
Xavier, meanwhile, had played just one match – an 8-0 win over Mesa Dobson on Wednesday (Dec. 10).
After a close first half, Xavier supplemented its one first-half goal with two more in the second for a 3-0 victory at Petznick Field.
For much of the first half, Salpointe was a worthy opponent – the Lancers challenged Xavier in its own end and appeared to be matching the Gators stride for stride.
Both teams were waiting for a break – something that would allow them to control the momentum.
It came with 12:07 left before halftime, when freshman forward Abby Hubbard weaved through traffic and fired a pinpoint pass to senior Tessa Zaccagnio, who booted the ball into the goal with her left foot. Xavier led 1-0 at the half.
The Gators caught a break with 33:24 left in the second half when Salpointe was whistled for a penalty. Xavier was awarded a penalty kick and Quiqui Hita sent it home for a 2-0 lead.
The situation became more desperate for Salpointe (5-2) as the clock ticked away, but Xavier then made it 3-0 with 10:31 left. The Gators got a free kick from the right side. Instead of trying to score from that angle, senior Amanda Lane tapped the ball over to senior Kelly Harris in the middle of the field, and Harris made it count with a successful shot.
Chura made a few lineup changes along the way to get the team going “and it worked in our favor,’’ she said.
“You can always improve and that’s what we are working to do with our training (practices). We still need some work defensively.’’
Even though the season is young, Chura is very pleased with the way the Gators are passing the ball.
The coach pointed to Hubbard in particular as one player who is rapidly on the rise. Hubbard has excellent footwork and passing skills and should eventually be able to develop into a reliable scorer.
“Since she is a freshman, she is not always as sure of herself as she could be, but we (coaches) have encouraged her, told her to let her skills take over in the games like they do in practice. It happened tonight and you could see her confidence build from there,’’ Chura said.
As with the match against Dobson, Chura was able to get both of her goalkeepers some work. Senior Sydnay Tucker played the first half, and freshman Kinsey Ehmann played the second.
Xavier will get nearly two weeks of practice before its next match. The Gators will travel to Santa Ana, Calif., and play in the Excalibur Soccer Invitational from Dec. 27-29 at Foothills High School. The Gators’ next home match will be in 2015 – against Phoenix Camelback on Jan. 6.

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