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, March 16, 2018

Xavier lacrosse enjoys playing at home

It must have seemed like a lifetime to coach Rachel D’Angelo and her Xavier Prep club lacrosse team before the Gators played their first home game of the season at Petznick Field.

After six road games, the time finally arrived on Thursday night (March 15) against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and it proved to be worth the wait.

Xavier built a four-goal lead by halftime and withstood a second-half rally by Notre Dame for a 9-7 victory. Xavier (3-4) had lost to the Saints 13-7 on March 12 at Notre Dame.

“We had our share of away games, so it was good to be home,’’ D’Angelo said.

Asked about the difference between the win and the contest earlier in the week, she said, “We played more as a team and had a ton more patience on offense.

“We have improved a lot since our first game of the season. We played well tonight and it shows that our basic skills have improved a lot.’’

Senior Caylie Wagner led the Gators with a hat trick, while sophomore Nina Mackey and junior Sarah Minton had two goals apiece. The other two goals were scored by junior Emma Tawney and sophomore Tara Kobierowski.

Sophomore Tanya Barakat had a decent game in goal and junior Grace Martinez showed a great deal of aggressiveness throughout at both ends of the field.

It was Wagner’s final goal of the night, with 3:17 left in the game, that turned a precarious one-goal advantage into the more comfortable two-goal margin that proved to be the difference in the final score.

Wagner took the ball to the right of the goal and as a defender rushed her, spun away and was in the clear for what nearly was a point-blank shot. It looked almost like some sort of basketball move. The opponent appeared stunned.

D’Angelo smiled at the thought of the last goal.

“She has tried a lot of those. She likes them and probably will try it again,’’ the coach said.

Next up for the Gators is perhaps their biggest challenge yet. They are at home again on Monday night (March 19) against league-leading Scottsdale Chaparral. The Firebirds (5-0) have given up just 17 goals in their five games.

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