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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Hamilton's second-half rally stuns Gator soccer

 Championship-caliber teams usually find a way to survive, even though they might face a deficit in the early stages of a contest.

It happened on Monday night (Feb. 8), when defending 6A Conference state soccer runner-up Chandler Hamilton strolled into Xavier Prep’s Petznick Field, with the hometown Gators carrying some title hopes of their own.

Xavier began the match by doing just about everything right. The Gators led 2-0 at halftime after goals by sophomore Eva Allen and freshman Talia Coury. At virtually every instance at every spot on the field, Xavier was the aggressor, beating the Huskies to the ball. The Gators were acting like they wanted to win and were playing like it.

At the mid-game break, something happened. Whatever words were imparted by the Hamilton coaches touched a nerve, got the Huskies’ attention.

They came out like a completely different team and simply put, took control of the game. They were as aggressive as Xavier had been in the first half, maybe even more so.

The Huskies tied it at 2-2 with goals only 1:29 apart and actually took a 3-2 lead about three minutes later, but it was waved off due to an offsides call by the officials.

Xavier strung it out to overtime (two 10-minute periods). Hamilton took the lead on a goal by Savannah Nelson with 5:19 left in the first OT period and rode it to a 3-2 victory.

Hamilton remained unbeaten at 4-0, while Xavier, its Premier Region rival, slipped to 2-2.

Allen and Coury led the way for Xavier. Allen also had an assist on Coury’s goal and senior Megan McGinty had an assist on Allen’s goal.  Senior Ololade Adebayo did a solid job trying to take the ball away from her opponents most of the way.

The Gators will have plenty of time to regroup for their next match, on Feb. 19 at Sandra Day O’Connor in north Phoenix.

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