For the first 70 minutes of their soccer match at Phoenix Pinnacle on Thursday night (Jan. 20), Xavier Prep’s Gators played pretty well but were tripped up by the Pioneers in the late stages and fell 2-1.
The Gators put up a first-half goal (by junior Larkin Thomason) and continued to lead by that slim margin as the second-half clock moved toward the contest’s conclusion.
Both teams dueled at virtually every turn, and the match had a state tournament-type of vibe. It was physical throughout.
With about 9 minutes left in regulation, Pinnacle (10-3-1) pulled even at 1. Xavier (4-2-1) tried to regain the lead, but could not put the ball in the net as Pinnacle started to apply the pressure, often keeping the ball in the Xavier end.
Then, with about 5 minutes to go, lightning struck again.
Pinnacle’s Anuli Okafor got the ball on Xavier’s left side, to the side of the goal where it would seem difficult to get the ball in the net from that angle.
But Okafor let it fly and it went in, much to the joy of the Pioneers and their fans huddled in the stands, keeping warm although it seemed colder than 62.
Seemingly drained of energy at that point, the Gators attempted to get the goal back and perhaps force overtime. Time was not an ally, however.
Xavier will be back at its Petznick Field home for its next match on Tuesday (Jan. 25) against Gilbert Perry.