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.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Reserves play key role in Xavier soccer win

As much as soccer players would like to play all 80 minutes of a match, even more with overtime, it probably isn’t a good idea for the sake of quality of play and endurance.

That makes it important for reserves to get their time, too. They can be an integral part of the mix.

One of the main concerns for coaches is to make sure this happens.

Xavier Prep coach Barb Chura got that opportunity in Friday night’s (Dec. 7) contest against visiting Yuma Kofa at Petznick Field.

She was able to utilize her reserves to a greater degree and it helped the Gators raise their record to 4-0-1 with an 8-0 victory over the Kings.

“Compared to our other games to now, the reserves got better minutes,’’ Chura said. “They looked a lot better and that made us look better overall. We are pleased.’’

Chura pointed to the efforts of five players who had expanded roles.

They were junior Brynn Lebel, sophomore Rian Mercado, junior Megan Onofrei, junior Liz Warren and junior Taylor Garman.

The coach also is encouraged by her team’s willing to make necessary adjustments from the first half to the second.

Xavier held a 3-0 lead at halftime, but Chura told her players that they could be more productive if they moved the ball wider to set up more opportunities than to have more of a logjam inside.

The result was a three-goal outburst within 2:32 early in the second half, doubling Xavier’s lead to 6-0.

“That was great for them to be able to do what we were telling them. It shows that they were listening,’’ Chura said.

Junior Lindsay Hubbard and freshman Keila Lopez Enriquez led the scoring parade with two goals apiece. Others with the magic scoring touch were freshman Ansley Burns, Warren, senior Caitlin Johnston and senior Kelli Rasmussen.

Johnston had three assists and Hubbard had two.

The Gators have one more match before the holidays kick in. That would be a home meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 11) with Gilbert Highland. After that, Xavier would not have any matches until it plays in the annual Excalibur Tournament in southern California from Dec. 27-29.

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