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, November 16, 2016

Expectations don't faze XCP soccer team

What do the World Champion Chicago Cubs and the Xavier Prep soccer team have in common?
Their approach to success.
Xavier coach Barb Chura recently recounted some words from popular Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
“He was talking about expectations. He said you run toward them -- you don’t run away. That’s kind of the way we are looking at it,’’ Chura said.
The Gators have been working hard since the first week of November and are not afraid of expectations that they will be one of the top challengers for the 6A Conference state title.
Xavier begins its regular season on Nov. 29 with a match at Gilbert High, and will play its first home game at Petznick Field on Dec. 2 against Phoenix Horizon.
Chura said defending state champion Phoenix Desert Vista and its title-match opponent, Chandler Hamilton, will be the top teams along with Xavier. In last season’s semifinals, the Gators fell to Hamilton 1-0.
“It’s a realistic goal for us to be playing for the state title,’’ Chura said.
Xavier lost six seniors from last season’s team, but has a strong group of returnees. Chura said there are nine seniors, eight juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.
“We have great, passionate senior leadership. They are good soccer players, but they are even better people,’’ Chura said.
The seniors, most of whom have been with the program all four years, “know what we (Chura and assistant Rafael Rios) want. They know how we think. They kind of always know what to do.’’
Two of those seniors are defender Elena Zurek and forward/midfielder Quiqui Hita.
“When the season starts, it will be good for us just to see what we have to offer,’’ said Zurek, who is returning to health after a broken ankle. “I think our talent level will be through the roof.’’
Said Hita: “I think we will be able to play different styles and we have had good bonding. We might bend, but we are not going to break. We are all pretty close.’’
The roles as leaders will include helping the coaches keep the players informed about what will transpire on the field.
“You can’t predict everything, but we want everyone to know what to expect,’’ Zurek said.
There’s that word again – expectations. Knowing yours and those of your opponents.
Both players have fine-tuned their skills for several years as teammates with the SC Del Sol club team.
Hita has been a forward for most of her career but played some midfield in club and might be counted on for some of that with the Gators.
Zurek likes business and computer science and hopes to go to college at a school in the Southwest, although she might not play soccer at that level. In April, Hita committed to play for the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
In addition to Zurek and Hita, Chura also is looking for key contributions from sophomore forward Kyla Ferry, senior midfielder Madie Amavila, senior midfielder Natalie Duque and junior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann.
“We probably have more defensive players than attackers, but we expect everybody to get the job done,’’ Chura said.

Xavier College Preparatory
2016-17 varsity soccer roster
Katie Hessel, Jr., goalkeeper; Kinsey Ehmann, Jr., GK; Elizabeth Warren, Fr., defender; Abby Hubbard, Jr., forward; Mady Chait, Jr., midfield/F; Madie Amavilah, Sr., MF; Alyssa Cerna, Sr., MF/F; Natalie Duque, Sr., MF; Quiqui Hita, Sr., F; Kyla Ferry, So., F; Madeline Warren, Jr., D; Jocelyn Rupp, Fr., MF; Izzy Culver-Witt, So., F; Clara Lynch, Fr., MF; Elena Zurek, Sr., D; Lauren O’Sullivan, Sr., D; Jessica Krushinsky, Jr., D; Abbey Castlen, Jr., F; Katie Moore, Sr., D; Olivia Chan, Sr., D; Megan Schmidt, Sr., D; Nicole Hook, Jr., D.

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