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, January 11, 2022

Xavier soccer can't seem to shake off rust

 When Xavier Prep’s soccer team stepped onto the field Monday night (Jan. 10) at Phoenix Desert Vista in Ahwatukee, it had been one month to the day that the Gators had played their previous match.

That scenario, particularly during the holiday time, might not always serve a team well. Teams might tend to find it a bit difficult to return to their productive style of play, as would be the case when the season starts and the players are trying to get used to each other.

Xavier played well in spots, but not enough to get past Desert Vista as the Thunder rode a goal just 4:56 into the second half to break a 1-1 tie and held on for a 2-1 victory.

It was the first loss of the season for the Gators, who at 3-1-1 are ranked No. 7 among 6A Conference teams by the Arizona Interscholastic Association after the release of its first power points list of the season on Tuesday (Jan. 11). Desert Vista (7-3-1) is No. 4.

Both teams kept trying to find ways to get the ball through a seam in their opponent’s defense in the first half.  Desert Vista broke the ice with 16:31 left before halftime on a goal by Emily Hermann.

Xavier tied it at 1 with 7:13 left in the half on a goal by senior Ansley Burns.

After Desert Vista took the lead with a goal by Mya Fortun in the second half, Xavier had a few opportunities to tie it again, but could not connect.

One shot was from point-blank range that was deflected by the Thunder’s goalkeeper, and another was a high-arcing shot that grazed the crossbar.

Xavier returns to action on Thursday (Jan. 13) with its first home match of 2022 at Petznick Field, a 6 p.m. contest against Phoenix Mountain Pointe. It also will be Senior Night, with the oldest Gators celebrating their soccer careers here.

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