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, January 26, 2016

Xavier soccer shines on Senior Night with 3-0 win

Xavier Prep’s six soccer seniors left Petznick Field with big smiles on their faces Monday night (Jan. 25).
On Senior Night, which also was the Gators’ regular-season home finale, Xavier used three second-half goals to post a 3-0 victory over visiting Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
Xavier (13-3), remains No. 1 on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power-points ratings list, and will wrap up the regular season with a road game against Anthem Boulder Creek on Wednesday night (Jan. 27).
The Division I state-tournament seedings will be announced by the AIA on Friday afternoon (Jan. 29), and the Gators likely will be the top seed. That means they will have one home game and possibly two if they win that first one.
The tournament opens Feb. 2 and continues with the quarterfinals on Feb. 6.
Xavier coach Barb Chura knows that winning the tournament will be no easy task. Last season as the No. 2 seed, the Gators fell at home to No. 15 Chandler on penalty kicks at home in the first round of the tournament.
She said that the way the game unfolded against O’Connor can be indicative of a possible playoff scenario, in which a team plays the Gators close most of the way, hoping for overtime and then penalty kicks, as Chandler did a year ago.
“They just want to keep it close and see if they can get you into penalty kicks,’’ she said.
The game against O’Connor appeared that it might be headed in that direction before Xavier broke the ice with about 23 minutes left in the contest on a goal by senior Lexi Allard.
Sophomore Abby Hubbard scored the second goal with 9:59 left, and sophomore Nicole Hook picked up the third goal with 7:21 left.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann recorded her ninth shutout of the season. Her defensive teammates kept O’Connor away from the goal most of the night.
“When you have a close game like that for awhile, you have to figure it is a matter of time (until a goal is scored),’’ Chura said. “When you get one, you can get two or three and things get rolling.’’
She was happy that all the seniors were able to get playing time. Some have not played a lot this season, but they could assume important reserve roles once the tournament begins.

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