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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Xavier on a roll, reaches soccer tourney semis

This is shaping up to be quite a memorable season for Xavier Prep’s soccer team.
The Gators ran their record to 8-0 on Tuesday (Dec. 29) and reached Wednesday's (Dec. 30) semifinals of the Excalibur Tournament of Champions in Irvine, Calif.
It is the most success Xavier has had in the years since first coming to the prestigious tournament.
The Gators will meet Esperanza, Calif., in a semifinal contest at 1:30 p.m., Arizona time, on Wednesday. The winner will play for the tournament championship at 7:30 p.m., and the loser will play in the third-place game at 6 p.m.
Xavier began the day on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Temecula Valley, Calif., then played Cypress, Calif. The Gators fell into a 2-0 hole against Cypress before rallying in the second half for a 2-2 tie and then earning the victory with a 5-4 edge in penalty kicks.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann made a pair of penalty kick saves to ensure the victory.
Down, 2-0, the Gators came back in the second half with goals by freshman Emily Chiao and sophomore Abby Hubbard.
Freshman Sadie Wintergalen set up the first goal with an aggressive run down the flank, beating a defender and getting the ball to Chiao. On the second goal, Olivia Chan made a long run and fired a shot at the goal. The Cypress goalkeeper mishandled the shot and Hubbard was there to finish the play.
Xavier coach Barb Chura said Cypress was by far the best team the Gators have faced in the tournament, and said Esperanza also will provide a big challenge.
Against Temecula Valley, both of Xavier's goals came in the first half.
Junior defender Maddie Amavila picked up the point on the first goal, and sophomore defender Madeline Warren connected for the second score. Both goals came off of corner kicks.
Chura said the game was physical and fast-paced, “and the defense by the whole team held strong.’’
The coach was able to play most of her girls on her roster against Temecula Valley.

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