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, January 29, 2022

Gators, fans have fun in home soccer finale

Xavier Prep’s soccer team played its final home match of the regular season at Petznick Field on Friday night (Jan. 28), and the Gators made sure that they sent parents and other followers of the team home happy.

They did it with a 2-1 victory over Chandler Basha, putting their record at 5-2-2. Basha fell to 11-6-2.

Star junior forward Bella Leonard provided the fuel with two goals, including a penalty kick with 25:22 left in the second half.

The teams traded scoring opportunities for the first 26 minutes until Leonard put the Gators on the board with 12:55 left in the first half. Basha tied it at 1, its goal set up by a free kick, and the half ended in a deadlock.

Xavier could not convert its free-kick opportunity off a deflection with 31 minutes left in regulation.  Leonard came through with the penalty kick score.

The Gators had a few opportunities to increase their lead, but were unable to put another on the board.

Basha had a free kick with 3:10 left, but could not make it work.

The Bears continued to apply pressure all over the field to try to get the ball back.

Late in the contest, Xavier junior forward Larkin Thomason took the ball all the way into the left corner in an attempt to maintain possession and use up more ticks on the clock, and the ploy was successful.

Xavier now takes to the road on Monday night at 6 for a match against Chandler High.

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