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 3, 2016

Soccer survives first round, faces Campo Verde next

Xavier Prep’s top-seeded soccer team cleared its first big hurdle in the Division I state tournament with a 5-0 first-round victory over visiting No. 16 Mesa Red Mountain on Tuesday night (Feb. 2) at Petznick Field.
Xavier (15-3) advances to Saturday’s (Feb. 6) quarterfinal match against eighth-seeded Gilbert Campo Verde, which won in a penalty-kick shootout against No. 9 Tempe Corona del Sol.
Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. at Petznick Field.
Entering Tuesday night’s game, it had been nearly a year to the day since Xavier was upset by Chandler High in the first round on penalty kicks. The Gators were missing leading scorer Tessa Zaccagnio.
“It put a damper on the whole night,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura of Zaccagnio’s illness.
Chura is convinced that had the Gators won in the first round, they would have had a good shot to claim the state title.
Now the Gators are poised to take the next step in 2016 with a team that is a lot better than last year’s, according to Chura.
“We’re deeper and we’re younger,’’ she said. “We have better players and our young kids are very good. I think we are going to be good for quite a while.’’
The coach said that the Gators have six new players on the field to start the games, including two freshmen and two sophomores.
The biggest difference in the game against Red Mountain and the one last year against Chandler was that Xavier scored early (three in the opening half) and that put the pressure on Red Mountain to play catch-up.
“The longer you allow a team to hang around, the more belief that gives them. Doing it this way makes them have to play,’’ Chura said.
Freshman Kyla Ferry scored Xavier’s first goal with a little more than five minutes gone in the first half. Sophomore Abby Hubbard provided the assist.
Hubbard came back to make it 2-0 about four minutes later on an assist by freshman Emily Chiao.
The third goal came with 18:23 left in the half on a shot by junior Quiqui Hita on an assist by senior Lexi Allard.
Hita and Chiao teamed up for Xavier’s fourth goal with 24:19 left in the second half, with Hita providing the assist on Chiao’s goal.
Freshman Alison Broderick booted one home for goal No. 5 with about seven minutes left to seal the victory.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann recorded another shutout.
“We played well, moved the ball well and played good defense,’’ Chura said.
Saturday’s other three quarterfinal games are No. 5 seed Phoenix Pinnacle at No. 4 Chandler Hamilton, No. 6 Scottsdale Chaparral at No. 3 Desert Vista and No. 7 Scottsdale Desert Mountain at No. 2 Gilbert Perry.

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