By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
BROCKTON, Mass. – In a battle against a heavyweight favorite, Franklin was able to push second-seeded Brockton to the limit but the Boxers landed a late knockout punch in a 3-1 win over the Panthers.
Brockton, despite a 16-3-2 record, has only lost one game that they’ve played in this season as the Boxers were forced to forfeit their last two games for over-scheduling.
With the game knotted at one, Brockton took its second lead of the game when John Santos played a through ball down the middle that Maldini Da Fonseca raced onto, touched to his right and fired a shot to the far post. Brockton added an insurance goal with Franklin pushing forward in the 78th minute.
“We battled,” Franklin head coach Fran Bositis said. “Franklin athletes never quit and they never quit tonight but the better team won. As good as the New Bedford team was that we played two years ago, I thought Brockton was more athletic and technically even better. They’re just loaded with talent. We made it interesting. You can’t ask anything more for than your kids to give their best and they kid.”
Brockton came out with pressure early on as Franklin senior goalie Henri Guilmette was called into action for the first time in the 3rd minute. Erivaldo Delgado played Da Fonseca in and he ripped at shot at the near post but Guilmette swallowed it up.
The Boxers took the lead in the 13th minute off a neat combination from Da Fonseca and Rilton Carvalho. Carvalho pushed a pass up to Da Fonseca, who took a touch in towards the middle of the pitch, bringing the defense with him. Da Fonseca used a nifty back heel to find an open Carvalho on the overlapping run and he was able to place a perfect shot in at the far post.
The lead was nearly doubled less than a minute later when Cam Frederick was able to get a touch to a loose ball before Guilmette but as the shot came on frame, Franklin senior Dan Geraci blocked the bid.
Guilmette came up with big saves in the 25th minute and the 30th minute to keep the deficit at just one.
Franklin nearly tied the game when Austin Kent’s free kick from the right side forced Brockton goalie Lury Assobmo to push the ball off the bar as he fell back.
Less than a minute later, Kent was able to beat Assobmo. As the keeper had the ball at his feet in the run of play, he lined up for a clearance. instead, Kent jumped into the area and blocked it and it went over the keeper and into the back of the net to make it 1-1 going into the halftime break.
“It clearly lifted out spirits,” Bositis said. “Their first goal was brilliant. We knew they were going to be good and I thought we were a little bit tentative and then they scored and we were a little bit more tentative but then we scored and it was a battle until they got that second goal. I’m proud of them.”
Neither side registered a serious scoring chance through the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Panthers were able to contain Brockton’s dangerous attack. In the 54th minute, Jorge Andrade looped a ball over the top of Franklin’s defense that Frederick ran onto but Guilmette got down in time for the stop.
“They started pressing us high and we made an error,” Brockton coach Rick Robens said. “We played a little bit safer after that. They’re goalie made some nice stops. Once they got that tying goal, they got a little bit of motivation and they were working hard. We showed some character coming out in the second half and we stepped up our game. We applied some more pressure and we’re happy to get those goals at the end there.”
Brockton threatened again in the 70th minute when Da Fonseca danced around a trio of defenders in the area and unleashed a shot but once again Guilmette had an answer.
“Henri was tremendous, just tremendous,” Bositis said.
The Boxers landed their knockout punch in the 74th minute, with Da Fonseca’s shot at the far post giving Guilmette no chance for a save.
Brockton advances to the D1 South Semifinals to take on Braintree. Franklin finishes the season with a 12-7-1 record.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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