Tuesday night’s (Jan. 28) game-winning goal by Phoenix Xavier Prep’s Kellie Peay didn’t have the same impact as the one she scored to beat Phoenix Desert Vista for the Division I girls soccer title last year, but it was pretty close.
Xavier held senior night and Peay was one of five players honored. Shortly after the halftime ceremony, 17 seconds into the second half, she headed the ball in off a corner kick and the Gators held on for a 1-0 victory over visiting Scottsdale Desert Mountain.
It has been quite a season for Peay, who will play collegiately at Santa Clara.
She took advantage of her athleticism, moving from her defender spot from last season to the forward spot on offense, helping to make up for the graduation of Michaela Dooley, azcentral.com’s Big Schools Player of the Year.
“I think of all the players who have come through here, she (Peay) is clearly one of the best,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura. “She has grown into more of a leader this season. She is very talented. Sometimes hard work beats talent, but she doesn’t allow that to happen because of how hard she works. When you see the best players doing that, you’re definitely on the right track.
“We’ve been blessed with good players and great kids.’’
Both Xavier and Desert Mountain took turns controlling the ball in a scoreless first half. There was good passing and good defense.
“It was a game of waves,’’ Chura said.
Peay’s goal came from Chura’s insistence at halftime that the players put more of a push on offense.
Xavier (11-5-1) controlled the ball much more after that and had a few other scoring chances that fell short.
The Gators were fourth in power points entering Tuesday’s play, the same spot from which they emerged to win it all last season. Desert Mountain (14-5-1) was ninth entering the day and wraps up its regular season at home against Phoenix Horizon on Thursday night (Jan. 30).
Xavier will travel to face No. 5 Chandler Hamilton on Thursday night in a game that will be streamed live on AIA365.com beginning at 6 p.m.