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, March 11, 2020

A memorable time for Mackey, XCP lacrosse

The rain came rolling in, but it wasn’t enough to put out the flame on Nina Mackey’s birthday candle.

Mackey had three goals, one of three Xavier Prep players with three or more, as the Gators put forth a strong effort on Tuesday night (March 10) with a 15-10 victory over Phoenix Horizon at Petznick Field.

The win was Xavier’s third in a row and put the Gators’ overall record at 3-2. Horizon fell to 1-3.

Mackey, a senior, had her own cheering section that sang “Happy Birthday’’ on a few occasions, and her teammates also sang after the match.

So, Nina, what’s better, satisfying the sweet tooth with a big slice of cake or getting a hat trick on your birthday?

“It’s better getting those goals and doing it with all of the support from my friends and family,’’ Mackey said.

Xavier scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the contest, and never let the Huskies get closer than two goals the rest of the way.

“It was good that we were able to get that early lead,’’ Mackey said. “It’s better that way than the other way around.’’

And it appears that the Gators are playing with more consistency during this current stretch.

Mackey agreed.

“In some of the other seasons, we would win some, but usually not in a row. It was broken up by a loss here and a loss there,’’ she said.

Freshman Keilani Hong nearly had a “double’’ hat trick with five goals and senior Tara Kobierowski had three goals. Freshman Joan Walton and senior Bridget Wickers each scored twice.

Xavier also did a good job defensively with eight “clears,’’ with senior goalkeeper Tanya Barakat initiating the plays sending the ball out and the Gators getting the ball down field quickly to enhance their chances of getting a good shot at the goal.

"In the practices, we’ve had a lot more focus, a lot more intensity, and that has helped us with our passing and catching and following through,’’ said Xavier co-coach Jen Nevatt.

“If we stay disciplined, we have the capability to win.’’

Xavier’s next two matches will be on the road, on March 17 at Tempe Corona del Sol and March 19 at Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

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