Franklin Bid for a Three-Peat Ends in Double Overtime

Hockomock Whitman hanson Franklin Dani Lonati

Whitman-Hanson players celebrate a double overtime goal that sends them to the state semifinal and ends Franklin’s attempt at a third straight sectional title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
BRAINTREE, Mass. – Franklin’s attempt to win a third consecutive Division 1 South title came to an end on Saturday afternoon at Braintree High’s Alumni Field. Freshman Taylor Kofton scored with six minutes remaining in double overtime to lift Whitman-Hanson to a 2-1 victory in the sectional final.
It was the first time since Whitman-Hanson in 2009 that a Hockomock teams failed to advance out of the South. Franklin won the title in 2010, 2012, and 2013 and Oliver Ames won in 2011 (by defeating Whitman-Hanson in the final).
Coming into the game on Saturday, Franklin was without two-time Hockomock League MVP Taylor Cogliano who had injured her ankle in practice two days before the final. Even without the senior forward and playmaker, Franklin still started the game on the front foot.
Just five minutes into the game, sophomore Megan Adams stole the ball off the foot of a Whitman-Hanson defender and then calmly buried the shot inside the post to make it 1-0. Franklin was flying and nearly doubled the lead within a minute when Bailey Knous also stepped in to steal the ball from the defense but her shot was stopped at full stretch and from point-blank range by Arianna Comendul.
Knous had a second chance in the 24th minute. The junior beat Comendul to a cross from right winger Alexis Stowell and directed the ball towards goal. Whitman-Hanson junior captain Kelsey Gilbert, who was outstanding in the back all game, headed the shot off the line.
“We had the opportunities that’s for certain,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen after the game. “We just didn’t finish them as well as we could’ve, but they can say the same thing. They had opportunities over the course of the game too, but it just didn’t go our way today.”
Instead of a three-goal cushion, Franklin only up by a single score and Whitman-Hanson started to find a foothold in the game as the half wore on. In the 31st minute, Franklin was made to rue those missed opportunities when Whitman-Hanson equalized on a great sequence of passing.
Rachel Kelly dropped deep to receive a pass and ran at the Franklin back line. She then hit a reverse ball pass through two defenders to free up space for Kofton, who sent a low cross to the back post to a wide open Alexis Fruzzetti. The junior tapped it in and it was 1-1.
“I thought their speed and athleticism gave us some trouble in the beginning and we were kind of back on our heels a little bit and they had the one and we were happy that Ari came up with the huge save to keep it 1-0,” explained Whitman-Hanson coach David Floeck.
The start of the second half was cagey with neither team wanting to give the other a chance at a dangerous counter attack. After about 10 minutes, Franklin started to take control of the midfield with Victoria Stowell and Meghan Georges creating openings for Knous to attack the center of the Whitman-Hanson defense.
Knous though that she had earned a penalty in the 54th minute after a challenge by freshman Elana Wood sent her tumbling in the box. It was a clumsy tackle by the lanky Wood and there was contact, but the referee waived away the appeals as the ball rolled harmlessly out of play.
Five minutes later Knous had another chance after a goal kick was played directly to her 25 yards from goal. She stepped around one challenge and then fired a shot that was mere inches outside the post.
Geysen remarked, “The kids certainly picked it up not having Taylor in the lineup. We didn’t miss a beat I don’t think.”
He added, “It would’ve been much nicer to have her on the field obviously, but to the kids’ credit they moved on without her.”
Whitman-Hanson took its time getting into the game in the second half, but finished regulation the stronger team. Lauren Bonavita set up Kofton for a chance in the 71st minute but a recovery block by Lauren Rudolph sent her shot wide for a corner. The same happened in the first overtime when Fruzzetti cut back twice onto her right foot but Nicole Ellin got a late challenge to block the shot over the bar.
“Our kids in the back…I mean that’s only the second time this season that we’ve given up two goals in a game,” said Geysen. “The kids in the back have played exceptional defense all season long. I don’t think we’ve had a poor game on defense all season.”
Floeck said, “We felt in the first overtime that we were getting the better of the chances and we were just hoping that we would get one before PKs.”
In the second overtime, Whitman-Hanson got the goal that it was looking for. A cross from the right by Fruzetti picked out Kelly, but she could not get a solid shot away and as the ball sat in the box Kofton ran onto it and punched it into the net for the game-winner.
Reflecting on the way that the game ended, Geysen was asked if things would have been different with Cogliano available.
He responded, “I told them before the game started, when you have adversity like we have today poor teams make excuses, average teams accept it, and good teams step up, embrace it, and try to make the best of it.”
As his players hugged each other behind him and tried to come to grips with the end of the season, Geysen added, “I don’t know if they would have changed their strategy defensively if Taylor was in the game. I don’t want to say it had a major difference. I don’t think it did; I think we played well enough to win the game today.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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Ryan Lanigan

Ryan Lanigan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HockomockSports.com. You can contact him at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and follow him on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
Ryan Lanigan
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