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, February 6, 2019

Xavier soccer "plays in,'' hopes to win

Play in. And if you win, you play on.

In theory, it is simple. But for Xavier Prep’s soccer team, the task is more formidable.

The two-time defending 6A state champion will need to win a “play-in’’ game on Thursday night (Feb. 7) in order to reach the state tournament.

At least the Gators (8-6-1) will play at their Petznick Field home. Ranked No. 11 in power points by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, they will meet No. 23 Mesa Westwood (9-7) at 6 p.m.

The AIA’s top eight teams automatically qualify for the state tournament. The event begins Saturday (Feb. 9) and if it defeats Westwood, Xavier would almost certainly have to play on the road.

Xavier has lost three in a row, four of six (all by shutout) and scored just one goal each in its two most recent wins, Jan. 11 against Tempe Corona del Sol and Jan. 15 against Phoenix Pinnacle.

Automatic 6A Conference qualifiers

Teams listed alphabetically by school.

Chandler Basha, Scottsdale Chaparral, Phoenix Desert Vista, Chandler Hamilton, Gilbert Highland, Mesa Mountain View, Gilbert Perry, Mesa Red Mountain.

Play-in games

Thursday, Feb. 7 at sites of higher seeds. Seeding in parentheses.

Glendale Mountain Ridge (24) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (9), Chandler High (17) at Tucson High (16), Yuma Cibola (18) at Peoria Liberty (15), Tempe Corona del Sol (21) at Mesa Desert Ridge (12), Mesa Westwood (22) at Phoenix Xavier Prep (11), Queen Creek (20) at Surprise Shadow Ridge (13), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (19) at Anthem Boulder Creek (14), Avondale La Joya (23) at Phoenix Pinnacle (10).

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