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.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Soccer: "Everything looks promising for us"

The slate is clean, and Xavier Prep’s soccer team is ready to embark on what the players, coaches and fans hope will be a successful run that includes a strong showing in the 6A Conference state tournament.

Gators coach Barb Chura is optimistic about the 2019-20 season.

“We will be better than last year, I do know that,’’ she said.

Xavier won back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018 and reached the quarterfinals a year ago.

The team is listed No. 6 among 6A teams by entering the regular-season opener on Dec. 3 against Tolleson High at Petznick Field. Another home match follows the next night against Phoenix Maryvale. Start time is 6 p.m. vs. both opponents.

Xavier had tryouts on Nov. 4 and has been preparing for the season since.

The process, both before the season and during, includes “team-building activities’’ such as lunches on Friday where the team is broken down into groups of four to allow the players to get to know each other better.

It helps on the field and off, Chura said.

Xavier’s improvement should be tied to greater depth at virtually all positions.

Among the team’s top players this year are senior forward Elizabeth Warren, senior defender Megan Onofrei and junior forward Kendall Warner.

Warren and Onofrei will rely on their experience. Warren is in her fourth year on the varsity. Onofrei recently signed a letter of intent to study and further her soccer journey at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. And Warner continues to use her growing maturity and confidence to her advantage.

“Everything looks promising for us so far,’’ said Warner. “I think we are deeper and even quicker than we have been.’’

Said Onofrei: “Our work ethic has been consistent and we are learning to communicate better.’’

That especially includes during the matches, warning teammates of an opponent nearby or perhaps directing passes to open Gators.

Warner is stationed primarily at the left front. She wants to be more aggressive and even be more creative with the ball to avoid being surrounded.

Said Onofrei: “We should get even better as the season goes along. We want to bring the best out in each other.’’

The Gators aren’t about to back down from anyone, according to Chura.

“At Xavier, all the sports are competitive in everything we do,’’ she said. “That helps create a great environment, and that’s why we want to keep it going.’’



(Listed alphabetically)

Eva Allen, Fr.; Savannah Angell, Fr.; Brooke Bream, Fr.; Jayme Brown, So.; Taylor Brown, Sr.; Ansley Burns, So.; Jaden Campbell, Jr.; Olivia Castrichini, So.; Delaney DeBusk, So.; Collins Entz, Fr.; Annalise Gong, Sr.; Katherine Harris, Jr.; Sophia Healy, Jr.; Kaitlyn Lauck, Sr.; Brynn Lebel, Sr.; Clara Lynch, Sr.; Tessa Montanile, Fr.; Megan Onofrei, Sr.; Emmie Paulson, Jr.; Hennessy Perez, So.; Taylor Rife, So.; Kendall Warner, Jr.; Elizabeth Warren, Sr.; Bailey Wolcott, Fr.; Megan Zacher, Sr.

Head coach – Barb Chura.

Assistant – Rafael Rios.



Dec. 3 -- Tolleson High. Dec. 4 – Phoenix Maryvale. Dec. 6 -- @ Phoenix Desert Vista. Dec. 13 -- @ Yuma Kofa. Dec. 26-27 – Excalibur Tournament, Norco, Calif.


Jan. 8 – Scottsdale Chaparral. Jan. 10 -- @ Gilbert Highland. Jan. 17 – Tempe Corona del Sol. Jan. 21 -- @ Phoenix Pinnacle. Jan. 24 -- @ Chandler Basha. Jan. 31 – Chandler High.


Feb. 4 -- @ Gilbert Perry. Feb. 7 – Chandler Hamilton.

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