After starting their league schedule with a 5-1 setback on the road at Oliver Ames on September 9th, the Franklin boys soccer team has found its groove by rattling off a five-game unbeaten streak, the latest a 2-0 decision on the road at North Attleboro for their fourth shutout in the past five contests.
The win keeps the Panthers in a tie with Attleboro atop the table of the Kelley-Rex division heading into the midway point of the season next week.
“I’m not sure what has changed…Oliver Ames is a good team and on that day, we didn’t show up,” said Franklin head coach Fran Bositis, now in his 52nd season at the helm. “I was upset after that game but I just had to keep reminding myself that we aren’t that bad. I really think we have a good team.”
Franklin has picked up shutout wins over King Philip, Foxboro, Sharon, and now North over the last two weeks with a 2-2 draw against Taunton in the middle of it all.
The Panthers pounced for a pair of first half goals on the grass pitch adjacent to North Middle School while the backline of Rex Cinelli, Will Klawson, Bradley Herndon, Connor Brown, and Ben Costa kept the Rocketeers’ offense at bay for the majority of the game as keeper Griffin Tolonen had just four saves.
Bositis noted that the Panthers have taken to one of the quotes posted in the locker room from Willie Mays.
“It isn’t hard to be good from time to time in sports. What is tough, is being good every day.”
“We’ve tried to focus on that,” Bositis said.
While the first chance of the game belonged to the Rocketeers as Kaden Burns intercepted a pass and carried it towards goal before unleashing a shot that went over the bar, the rest of the first half belonged to the visitors.
Just before the midway point of the first half, Franklin cashed in on its consistent pressure up top. Sophomore Matt Honekamp won a battle on the sidelines before putting a dangerous cross into the mixer where junior Andrew O’Neill found himself in some open space and connected on a one-time half volley into the far corner for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
Minutes before halftime, Cinelli smashed a long ball out of the back that went over the top of the defense. Senior Will Kryzak used his speed to track it down, dribble into the area, cut back to create some space, and then fired a blast to the upper 90 at the near post. Goeller got a piece of it but it still found its way under the bar for a 2-0 advantage in the 36th minute.
North had one final chance before the halftime whistle as Carson Dameron sprayed a ball wide for Burns, who was able to get around his defender and carry it along the end line. His low centering pass found Zach Smahi in the area but his low bid was blocked by Klawson.
Franklin continued to control play for the first 30 minutes of the second half. Hansy Jacques was played in behind the defense in the 54th minute but Goeller was quick off his line to thwart the chance.
A big reason why the Panthers continued to control the pace and continually force the Rocketeers out of possession was because of the fresh legs they had off the bench. Lovell and Scagliarini controlled the center of the pitch for the most part but Noah Cain, Gustavo Martinez, and Honekamp were key pieces in the middle as well.
“We definitely have a real good bench, there’s no doubt about it,” Bositis said. “We had a really good JV team last year and those kids who have joined us have made us a better team. We lost some good players [to graduation] but this year we have really good depth.
“They trust each other and they have confidence in each other. And what works with the depth is that everyone has confidence in the kids that come off the bench too. They’ve done a good job so far and I hope we can continue it, just have to take it one game at a time.”
North finally established some footing in the attack in the final 15 minutes. Jack Regan launched a free kick up field that deflected off a Panther defender, allowing Bryce Newth to run onto it but his bid was denied by Tolonen, who did well to come off his line and cut down the angle.
In the 77th minute, Smahi muscled his way into possession and launched a shot from distance that eluded a leaping Tolonen but hit the top of the crossbar and went over.
Franklin boys soccer (4-1-1 Hockomock, 5-1-1 overall) will carry its five-game unbeaten streak into Wednesday’s visit from Canton. North Attleboro (3-2-1, 3-2-1) is back in action on Monday in a non-league contest with Dartmouth.