Xavier, two-time defending 6A Conference champ, had its hands full with Chaparral, moving up to 6A this season after winning it all in 5A a year ago.
Despite missing a couple of key players who were nursing injuries, the Gators gave it all they had but came up short, 2-0.
Xavier slipped to 6-3-1 while Chaparral is 10-2-2.
“Chaparral is a really good team,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura. “They are stronger and faster, but I thought we competed really well. They play with physicality. In the rest of our games, we are probably going to face that. So we have to find a way to deal with it. We’re going to have to be as good (physical) as they (opponents) are.’’
The coach added that her team needs to pass better and be quicker about it.
Chaparral appeared to have quicker reaction time on defense. Whenever the Gators would make a pass, at least two or three of the Firebirds would be there to surround the recipient.
It appeared as if the contest would be scoreless at halftime, allowing the Gators to regroup.
But the Firebirds scored their first goal at the 1:45 mark by Lauren Carlson. The shot had just enough height to get over the fingertips of Xavier keeper Katie Harris as she reached up to try to stop it.
Carlson also would score the second goal with 5:32 left in the game off a deflection.
Xavier had been looking to tie it up before that score, but a couple of different opportunities were unsuccessful.
One came in a scramble on a free kick by the Gators, and the other came when a power shot by Lindsay Hubbard was stopped by the Chaparral keeper.
Xavier has a quick turnaround, with another road match on Friday night (Jan. 11) against Tempe Corona del Sol (3-2-3).The Gators will return home on Tuesday (Jan. 15) against Phoenix Pinnacle.