Pinnacle vs. Xavier girls soccer semifinal matchup
Division I Girls Soccer semifinal
No. 4 Xavier vs. No. 1 Pinnacle
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Campo Verde H.S. (3870 S. Quartz Street, Gilbert)
Outlook: Elite vs. elite. No surprises vs. no surprises. These two schools have been elite programs the past few years (longer in Xavier’s case) and know each other very well. Xavier’s defense has been outstanding most of the season, especially of late, even though assistant coach Rafael Rios noted eight kids have been out of the lineup (at any one time) since December because of injuries and illness and a transfer, including a couple key starters who were lost for the season (notably a big-time offensive threat in Nikki Walts). Kellie Peay and Amanda Lane are anchors on the Gators’ back line that could be the best in the state (certainly top-3). A two-platoon goalkeeping situation has also worked out well this season. Captains Cassidy Cunningham and Michaela Dooley, along with Marina McMorrow have picked up the pace without Walts up front. Can the Gators score a couple goals and hold on defensively one more time against Pinnacle’s elite offense? The Pioneers haven’t missed a step since coach Kasey Bingham left the team in mid-December when she was hired by Dixie State, and needed to leave Pinnacle (the original plan was to leave after the season ended), and Adam Crestman took over the team. The No. 1 Pioneers also rolled on even when star forward Jorian Baucom broke her nose a few weeks ago. With Baucom, Missy Kettelkamp and Maddie Kmetko as a three-tiered monsters (forward, midfield, defense) the Pioneers are deep, talented and have leadership. This group won the elite AZ Soccer Showcase tournament in late December. Xavier won the first matchup, 2-1, on Dec. 3 during the Tournament of Champions. Pinnacle won the power rankings regular season matchup, 2-1, on Dec. 10.