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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stunning soccer exit for Gators at state

Just like that, it was over.
Xavier Prep’s outstanding soccer season came to a stunning conclusion on Tuesday night (Feb. 3) when the second-seeded Gators fell to visiting No. 15 Chandler 5-3 on penalty kicks following a pair of scoreless 10-minute overtimes and 80 minutes of the regular match.
Chandler senior Julia Byerlein, stellar in goal all night, made a key stop on Xavier’s fourth penalty kick and then came back to score what proved to be the game-winner on the Wolves’ fifth kick.
Xavier players walked off the field stunned, embracing each other as the tears flowed. The Gators had put so much into their season, especially the seniors, and now it was done.
Xavier played hard the whole way, but Chandler was there to match that stride for stride.
XCP was without leading scorer Tessa Zaccagnio, who was out with an illness. It was likely her season was done even had the team advanced to the next round.
Even without Zaccagnio, the Gators had plenty of chances to score during regulation and the overtimes, but couldn’t get the ball in the net.
Coach Barb Chura and Xavier athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor addressed the team afterward, crediting the players for a job well done and encouraging the returning athletes to come back strong in 2015-16.
Xavier finished 16-2-1.

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