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 28, 2018

XCP soccer routs Tolleson, is a work in progress

After an 11-0 rout of host Tolleson High in its season opener on Tuesday night (Nov. 27), there is reason for optimism regarding Xavier Prep’s soccer team. But the Gators are far from being ready to be fitted for their third straight 6A Conference state championship crown.

It will be difficult for head coach Barb Chura and assistant Rafael Rios to get a good read after this one. Xavier was a bigger, stronger team than Tolleson and the Wolverines seldom got close to a goal opportunity, with sophomores Katie Harris and Jaden Campbell sharing the Xavier goalkeeper duties.

Xavier led 4-0 at halftime and Chura was constructive in her comments without yelling at the players. She told them she wanted them to play faster and pass the ball better by limiting the number of touches of the ball and making the ones they have with better quality.

The team responded with seven goals in the second half. Tolleson looked fatigued by the end.

“From the first to the second half, we improved with some of our decision-making and we made the adjustment by playing quicker,’’ Chura said.

However . . .

“We are a long, long way off from being the final product,’’ she said. “We have a lot to work on.

“Literally, just about every player we have is brand-new. Some are back after sitting out the last two years and we have younger ones. It’s going to take some time for everybody to start playing together, but time is not something we have a lot of since the high school season is so short.’’

As far as goal production was concerned, the Gators spread the wealth around a bit.

Junior Elizabeth Warren had a three-goal hat trick. Senior Caitlin Johnston and freshmen Keila Lopez Enriquez and Olivia Castrichini had two each. And senior Lindsay Hubbard and sophomore Kendall Warner each had one.

Lopez Enriquez, who scored the first goal of the match, looks to have potential with many of her skills. And Castrichini gives the Gators an element of speed to complement that of Johnston.

Xavier will be at Petznick Field for its home opener against Phoenix Desert Vista on Friday (Nov. 30) at 6 p.m. That will be preceded by the junior-varsity match at 4.

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