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, May 8, 2021

Future bright for lacrosse despite title setback

 Xavier Prep’s young club lacrosse team gave every ounce of energy it had, but the power and speed of Gilbert Higley wore down the Gators, particularly in the second half, to claim the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association’s Division 2 championship with an 18-9 victory on Friday night (May 7) at Higley.

It was the third time that Higley (12-2) defeated XCP (9-7) this season. It was the first time that Higley played for a championship and the seventh time for the Gators, who have won it all on two occasions.

The game, and the Division 1 contest that was played after, were part of the AGLA’s initial involvement in the annual Grand Canyon State Games.

Xavier had a 6-4 lead with 6:56 left in the first half, but Higley scored three straight goals for a 7-6 lead at intermission.

It was not a good omen, to be sure.

Higley scored four times in the first eight minutes of the second half while Xavier did not score until 17 minutes remained in the match. The Knights seemed to score at will after that.

Co-head coach Diana Oduhlo said as the Gators prepared for this latest match-up with Higley, everyone knew what was coming – what she called Higley’s “fast break.’’

“We did our best to stop it, but our legs got tired,’’ Oduhlo said.

The Gators indeed did seem a step or two behind while trying to track down the ball.

“And they (Higley) won more draws,’’ Oduhlo said of the equivalent of a jump ball in basketball.

Jen Nevatt, co-head coach with Oduhlo, said the first half was “back and forth. It was very exciting. We would like to be able to put it all together like that and be able to stay in the game.’’

Xavier got a big scoring night from sophomore Gigi Riviere, who had five goals. Sophomore Keilani Hong had two goals and sophomore Joan Walton and freshman Marlee McCloskey each scored one.

Xavier was very inexperienced to start the season “and none of us knew what to expect,’’ Nevatt said. “But the girls learned and played well, and to reach this point, we couldn’t be happier.’’

Said Oduhlo: “We had a young team, and it showed. But we were able to build a solid foundation. We are excited for the future.’’



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