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, January 27, 2021

Late Perry goal turns away Gator soccer, 1-0

 Xavier Prep’s soccer team did many things right in its season opener at Gilbert Perry on Tuesday night (Jan. 26), but couldn’t accomplish its primary objective – getting a win.

With a scoreless duel continuing to head down the stretch in the match’s late moments, Perry somehow managed to sneak one into the goal, with 4:27 left in regulation, for a 1-0 victory in chilly conditions.

The Pumas’ Megan Hedger sent the ball into the net, and the clock became her team’s ally.

Xavier had some opportunities to score, but fate intervened.

Senior forward Ololade Adebayo nearly headed the ball in with 24:22 left in the first half, and sophomore forward Eva Allen appeared to be on target with a shot at the 7:55 mark, but the ball traveled just over the crossbar.

Perry couldn’t convert a pair of early chances in the second half, and Xavier was lining up one of its own shortly thereafter.

Junior backer Ansley Burns got the ball on the Gators’ right side and made a full sprint for nearly the entire length of the field, but the Perry defense put up a roadblock at just the right moment.

Perry looked for a dead-on score in front of the Xavier goal, but was whistled for offside with 11:14 left. The match rolled to a stop with a Perry injury at the 5-minute mark, but the Pumas recovered for the deciding sequence.

Both teams took turns controlling the ball. Xavier was very competitive, to be sure, and played very well. The Gators hope to adjust to the speed and physical nature of opponents moving forward.

Xavier will be back on the road on Friday (Jan. 28) at 4 p.m., at Chandler Basha, before playing its home opener on Monday night (Feb. 1) against Chandler High. Start time is 6 p.m. for that one.

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