Xavier junior Christina Dugan is used to scoring goals, not stopping them. But in her first career start in goal, Dugan, usually a forward, helped propel the No. 3 Gators to a 1-1 tie through regulation and most of the two overtime periods in a 5A Desert Valley region matchup with No. 4 Horizon Wednesday night at Xavier.
With time running out in the second overtime, however, Xavier coach Barbara Chura dug into her bag of tricks, choosing to drop sophomore forward Chelsea Canepa back into goal while bringing Dugan back up front for the Gators.
The move paid off, as Canepa stopped three of four Husky penalty kicks — the Gators connected on three of their four shots — to propel Xavier to a 2-1 victory.
"She’s an amazing athlete and she has very quick reflexes," Chura said of the move to put Canepa, who’d played some goalkeeper while a member of Chura’s club team, in net.
"It wasn’t too bad," Canepa said. "I just had to tell myself I was ready and I could do it."
A night after scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 Xavier win over Paradise Valley, Dugan said she volunteered to play goalkeeper, only to find out just before the match that she would actually be in net for the first time in an organized contest.
"My team really needed me, considering we don’t have a goalkeeper right now," Dugan said.
The Gators (9-2-1, 5-1) have been using a goalkeeper-bycommittee system after freshman keeper Ariana Byrd suffered a leg injury early in the season.
Dugan held her own though, matching Horizon goalkeeper Carlyn Swenson save for save. Dugan’s most clutch stop, however, came in the waning minutes of the second overtime as she was knocked into the post by an attacking Husky player.
"I hit the post and kind of blacked out for a second," she said. "But I knew I just had to keep that ball out of the net."
The matchup stayed physical throughout after both teams got on the scoreboard early in the first half, thanks to goals by Xavier’s Ellen Harris and Horizon’s Ali Nordlander.
"They’re in our region and it’s a rivalry," Chura said of the traditionally physical nature of matchups between the Gators and Huskies (10-4, 3-1). "It’s been that way long before I got here and it will be that way long after I’m gone. Xavier and Horizon have this, just like Mountain Pointe and Corona (del Sol) has theirs."