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, December 12, 2018

Early Highland 2nd-half goal dooms Gators

Less than a minute into the second half, Xavier Prep’s soccer match against visiting Gilbert Highland turned into an uphill battle.

The scoreless tie had been broken with a Highland goal, and it remained the rest of the way, as the Hawks walked away with a 1-0 victory, knocking Xavier from the unbeaten ranks at 4-0-1. Highland is 7-3-1.

Xavier had several chances to score during the contest, but couldn’t quite put the ball in the net. A little bit wide here, a little bit high there, combined with Highland’s aggressive defense, and the deal was sealed.

The Gators didn’t seem to know what happened at the start of the second half when Highland’s Kaleigh Backlund took the ball directly down the middle of the field, veered slightly to the left, and scored.

Highland continued to apply the defensive pressure and was able to control the ball on its possessions.

Xavier seniors Lindsay Hubbard and Sadie Wintergalen did their best to try to find open teammates. Hubbard had a few shots turned away by the Highland goalkeeper, but these two players worked hard until the final horn.

The Gators now will take a break from the Arizona portion of their schedule. They will participate in the annual Excalibur Tournament in southern California from Dec. 27-29, then resume in-state play on Jan. 10 at Scottsdale Chaparral.

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