The Chandler Hamilton soccer player booted the ball high into the air, and by the time it came back to Earth, it was over.
In the blink of an eye, Xavier Prep’s season had reached a stunning conclusion.
Fourth-seeded Hamilton, which Xavier had defeated earlier in the season, had scored a 1-0 victory in a Division I semifinal game on Tuesday night (Feb. 9) at Gilbert Campo Verde High.
It was only the second time that an Arizona team had defeated the Gators (16-4) this season. The only other team to do it was No. 3 seed Phoenix Desert Vista, which eliminated No. 7 Scottsdale Desert Mountain in overtime in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Hamilton will face Desert Vista for the championship on Saturday (Feb. 13) at Campo Verde, with a 4 p.m. starting time.
The Huskies had followed the same blueprint that some of Xavier’s other recent opponents had done – by playing solid defense, keeping the game close and waiting for a big opportunity.
Xavier had the edge in the first half, but Hamilton took over the game in the second, peppering the goal with several shots, although none went in.
Hamilton’s opportunity came with 8:19 left in regulation when Bryce Miniefield scored on a rebound after the Gators’ goalkeeper made contact following a corner kick.
The Huskies were able to run the rest of the time off the clock.
“I don’t think we played our best,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura.
“It was a game of runs. We had the momentum for a while and then they had it. We had our chances to put it away, and we didn’t. Hamilton has some dynamic young players.
“On the goal, we didn’t clear the ball, and if you don’t clear it, you can be in trouble.’’
As the final minutes slipped away, the Gators looked tired.
Chura did not dispute that.
“If you don’t have the ball and have to keep chasing them (opponent) around when they have it, you do get tired,’’ she said.
“It was still a great season for us. We have a lot of good young players, too, and we will be back.’’