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 24, 2021

Gators take care of Mtn. Ridge, now face Pinnacle

 This soccer match was all aboGaut opportunities.

The more chances you have, the likelihood increases that you will score. If you miss, or the ball is stopped or deflected by the goalkeeper, come back for another try, and another . . .

Xavier Prep’s Gators were in that situation against visiting Glendale Mountain Ridge on Tuesday night (Feb. 23).

They certainly had their chances, but had nothing to show for it.

Then, within a 16-second span of the first half, they got not one, but two goals, and went on to put another goal on the board in the second for a 3-0 victory.

Xavier improved its record to 4-2, while Mountain Ridge dipped to 6-5.

Xavier coach Barb Chura called it “a good, quality win.’’

With a home match against highly regarded Phoenix Pinnacle looming on Thursday night (Feb. 25), it was an effort that the Gators needed to maintain their confidence and a bit of momentum.

Xavier was eighth among 6A Conference teams on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s latest power points list released at midday on Wednesday (Feb. 24). Pinnacle, which has been No. 1 for a large part of the season, is now second after its first and only loss to Gilbert Highland.

Chura was able to get virtually everyone on her roster some key playing time. That added to the coach’s theory that all the players will need to keep fresh legs for the Pinnacle match. Most of the starters played in the first half against Mountain Ridge, while reserves worked the second.

Xavier’s first goal on Tuesday night came with 16:20 left in the first half. It began with a corner kick by sophomore forward Eva Allen and finished with a goal by senior midfielder Bianca Feix. At the 16:04 mark, Allen stepped in front of a Mountain Lion player to take possession and made the score 2-0.

Just like that.

“Eva just carved her way (through the defense) to get that goal,’’ Chura said. “I think it was one of the nicest goals I have seen. That is the type of play that only elite players can make and Eva is an elite player.’’

Sophomore forward Tatum Kramer came through in the second half to get the team’s third goal, with 26:45 left.

Chura said she is pleased with Kramer’s development.

“She is starting to come on,’’ Chura said. “She is playing really, really well.’’

Sophomore midfielder Collins Entz also drew praise. On numerous occasions, she would take the ball away from the opponent with aggressive maneuvers and set up teammates with accurate passes to allow the ball to move farther down the field.

Senior goalkeeper Ella Eberhardt came up with eight saves and delivered the team’s fourth shutout of the season.

After the Pinnacle contest, Xavier will have two more regular-season matches – on Monday (March 1) at home against Phoenix Desert Vista and on March 4 at Phoenix Mountain Pointe.

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