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.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Gator lacrosse valiant in semifinal defeat

Tears flowed among Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse players after their 2017 season came to an end with a 14-8 loss to host Scottsdale Chaparral in the state tournament semifinals on Thursday night (May 4).
There were tears of disappointment, tears from the energy spent during the game and season and tears over the buildup of camaraderie that a season of being together creates.
Xavier coach Rachael D’Angelo had all she could do to keep her composure, but she managed to do so and reflect on the season.
The Gators finished 10-4 and were the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Thursday night’s scoring output was the lowest since a 16-8 loss to Chaparral on March 23. After that match, Xavier won seven in a row and outscored opponents 117-41.
It was not to be this time.
“We played fantastic tonight, but their (Chaparral) goalie was really good,’’ D’Angelo said.
“All of our toughest games were early in the season. We had to develop a good mentality. We got better every single game and I think we had the best talent in the three years I have been at the school.’’
The unknown is staring D’Angelo in the face. The program loses 13 graduating seniors, leaving her to reach into this year’s junior-varsity team for help next year.
“We have some talented young players coming up, and I’m excited about our chances over the next couple of years,’’ D’Angelo said.
One of the departing players will be Katie Hobaica, who toughed it out after falling early on and sustaining artificial turf burns on her knees. She led the way for Xavier with three goals.
Other Gators scoring goals were Sarah Minton, Kayla Swanson, Alexa Wear, Arden Schraff and Caitlin Blomo.
Xavier trailed 4-1 with 16:45 left in the first half and was in danger of falling out of it, but rallied to tie it with consecutive goals by Blomo, Wear and Schraff within a span of about four minutes.
Xavier took a 5-4 lead on a goal by Hobaica with 9:44 left, but Chaparral, the No. 2 seed, answered with a goal at 1:53 and took a 6-5 lead with 24.7 seconds left.
With time running out in the first half, there was a scramble in front of the goal and it appeared the Gators scored the tying goal as time expired.
It appeared the officials were going to negate the score but after a lengthy discussion agreed to give Xavier the goal, by Swanson.
The second half was a different story.
Chaparral made a push to regain control of the game and did so with four straight goals in the first nine minutes. After getting another goal with 14:12 left, the Firebirds slowed the pace considerably and earned a berth in Saturday night’s (May 6) championship match against No. 4 Phoenix Pinnacle at Phoenix Arcadia. Pinnacle advanced by upsetting top-seeded Phoenix Desert Vista 10-9.
“I don’t think we took care of the ball as well as we did in the first half. We weren’t very clean,’’ D’Angelo said. “And our defense fell apart a little. But I am still happy with the way we played.’’

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