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, January 11, 2020

Two second-half goals lift Highland past Gators

The soccer match was there for either team to take.

Both Xavier Prep and Gilbert Highland had their share of opportunities on Friday night (Jan. 10) at Highland. The Gators could not capitalize but Highland did, scoring twice after a scoreless first half for a 2-0 victory.

Xavier now has a 4-4-1 overall record and Highland is at 6-4-1.

The Gators had hoped to build on a bit of momentum gained from a 1-1 tie against highly regarded Scottsdale Chaparral on Wednesday (Jan. 8) and now will have a chance to regroup before their next match, on Jan. 17 at home against Tempe Corona del Sol.

Highland broke through on the chilly evening with only 4:16 gone in the second half on a goal by Kylee Holstad after a scramble in front of the goal.

Xavier coach Barb Chura said her team had the chance to tie it up on a few occasions shortly thereafter but could not find the back of the net.

“It can change the whole momentum if you tie up the game,’’ she said.

Instead, Highland gained even more momentum, scoring its second goal with 21:37 left in the contest, this one by Kaleigh Backlund.

Xavier still had plenty of time to turn things around but was forced to battle for possession, as it had been doing for most of the previous moments of the second half.

The closest the Gators came to getting on the scoreboard was at 14:13, when a shot by Elizabeth Warren sailed just over the Highland goal.

“We made some mistakes, and it cost us,’’ Chura said.

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