Monday night’s (Jan. 23) 6A Conference soccer match between host Xavier Prep and Phoenix Desert Vista had a championship feel to it.
There was a scoreless first half, with a momentum-altering battle back and forth. Each team scored in the second half and then the shivering rain came.
Each touch of the ball became crucial, but neither team could find the back of the net.
It stayed that way through a pair of 10-minute overtimes and Xavier tied the defending state champion 1-1.
The Gators (9-2-3) will wrap up their regular season on Tuesday night (Jan. 24) with a match at Chandler Basha.
As of Tuesday morning, Xavier stood in second place in the 6A rankings determined by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Chandler Hamilton was first, despite a 2-1 loss to the Gators on Jan. 10.
The AIA is expected to announce its state tournament soccer pairings this weekend. Xavier is in line for a first-round home match on Feb. 1 and would host another match on Feb. 4 if it can win its first one. The Gators likely will remain the No. 2 seed.
Xavier coach Barb Chura received good news when she learned that junior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann had been cleared to play against Desert Vista after missing the two previous games with an injury.
Ehmann was stellar, and the only hiccup came with 28:33 left in the second half when the Thunder’s Corey Zaremba was able to control a loose ball near the goal and send it home.
That put the pressure squarely on the Gators to try to even it up.
The equalizer came at the 21:16 mark when senior Natalie Duque scored off an assist from sophomore Kyla Ferry.
Ehmann made some crucial stops in the wet overtime period. Xavier attempted to earn the win with some shots of its own, but was unable to connect.