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, May 5, 2021

Lacrosse escapes Pinnacle, will play for title

 Wow, that was a close one.

Too close for comfort.

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team thought it had its Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association Division 2 semifinal match well in hand on Tuesday night (May 4), with 13 minutes to go and an 11-3 lead over the host Phoenix Pinnacle Blue team.

But Pinnacle, which had defeated the Gators twice during the regular season, had other ideas. The Pioneers wanted a third win.

Pinnacle made its power move to score seven straight goals, the last one with 35 seconds left in the match, but Xavier held on for an 11-10 victory. Xavier advances to the Division 2 title match on Friday night (May 7) at Higley, the host team, at 6 p.m. Xavier (9-6) also lost twice to Higley.

Were it not for a Pinnacle goal being waved off by the officials earlier during the run, Tuesday night’s contest might have wound up in a tie, forcing overtime.

The Gators were smiling as they walked off the field, but also clearly were in shock.

That included co-head coaches Diana Oduhlo and Jen Nevatt and assistant Clay Zuba.

“My heart hurts, but in a good way,’’ Nevatt said. “It was an exciting one.’’

“Yeah, but it didn’t have to be,’’ Oduhlo said.

“At the start of the second half (a 7-2 Xavier lead), our players thought they had it in the bag, you know, “We got it.’ The decision making wasn’t there, not like we had that allowed us to get there, missed out on some of the simple things.’’

And so the young team learns by fire. Nevatt said that four players started the season not having played the sport before.

“You learn as you go along,’’ she said.

The team opened the season with an 11-7 loss to Higley and ended the regular season with a 14-10 setback to the Knights on April 30.

“We’ll have to clean up our mistakes, which is what we really didn’t do in that second one,’’ Oduhlo said. “They didn’t beat us. It was Xavier that beat Xavier.’’

Against Pinnacle, most of the Gators’ points came from most of their top scorers.

Sophomore Keilani Hong had four goals, freshman McKenna Boyer and sophomore Gigi Riviere had three each and freshman Marlee McCloskey had one.



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