BOSTON, Mass. – For the second year in a row, Franklin held a lead against BC High, but also for the second year in a row the Panthers failed to hold onto it and allowed the Eagles to walk away with the victory.
BC High shut out the Panthers 5-0 in the fourth quarter, with senior attacker A.J. Kucinski recording a goal and three assists, and turned around a two-goal deficit to pull out a 10-7 victory in the Eagles’ season opener.
“We have to play teams like this,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “These guys are always going to be a good challenge, just the second year in a row that we sort of imploded in the fourth quarter.”
The Panthers got off to the perfect start on a blustery afternoon. Senior Jared Trainor opened the scoring inside the first minute and just two minutes later sophomore Eric Civetti scored the first of his three goals to double the lead.
A quick outlet pass by junior Patrick Watson sprung Civetti, who picked out senior Austin Kent for his first goal of the game and the Franklin bench was going crazy on the sidelines. The energy got ramped up even more when Kent forced a turnover in the attacking zone and then fed Civetti for his second and a the Panthers’ fourth.
Kucinski got on the board after a turnover early in the second quarter, but Civetti answered right back for Franklin just a minute later. It would be the last goal of the half for the Panthers, as the BC High defense started to clamp down.
“They shut down Eric and Austin and we just didn’t get enough out of our midfielders,” said Verrochi. “We just weren’t driving forward the way we should have…when those two start to tire we just don’t have the kids to throw in like we did last year.”
After a pair of goals by the Eagles, sophomore goalie Connor O’Rourke stepped up with a huge close-range save on Kucinski to keep the score 5-3. Franklin raced down the field and freshman pole Patrick Morrison had his goal wiped out because there was a man in the crease.
BC High sophomore Will Bowen took advantage of the ruling and beat Franklin in transition, racing straight down the middle of the field and beating O’Rourke in the bottom corner.
“We threw the ball away, we were in the crease a few times, bad substitutions, we were sloppy out of the box…but once we got ourselves set and it was time to make plays they stepped up,” said BC High coach Steve Lydon.
O’Rourke took over between the pipes this season after playing as an attacker during his freshman year. Verrochi said that there was an opening in goal and the sophomore spent the offseason learning the new position.
Verrochi said, “I can’t say enough about what he did this year. He went to all sorts of camps and he’s now playing goalie for Laxachussets in his age level. That says a lot about his athleticism and how he goes after the game.”
Junior Sam Arsenault restored the two-goal lead with a man-up goal three minutes into the third quarter, but Kucinski answered back for the Eagles. With time running down in the third, Kent capped a long possession with an unstoppable rocket into the top corner, which made it 7-5.
The Franklin defense, led by seniors Matt Pleshaw, Sean Lockhart, and Gabe Murphy, had managed to limit the chances for Kucinski and the Eagles attack. But in the fourth quarter, everything turned around.
Pat Greene scored to cut the lead to one, Andrew Helfrich completed his hat trick (on a Kucinski assist) to tie it, and then Kucinski gave BC High its first lead with a shot on the run, across his body, and into the top corner.
“We went to sleep on him,” said Verrochi. “I was disappointed in how our close defense played in that fourth quarter. I talked to the players that we can’t allow that to happen.”
“That type of stuff, with a senior defense, we can’t have that.”
Kucinski assisted on the final two goals of the game. Franklin’s chances were limited, although it did force BC High goalie Michael Haggan into four saves in the fourth and Kent smacked the post with a shot in the final minute.
“We had a couple guys go out and make plays for us,” said Lydon. “A.J. made a couple of really big plays in the fourth and our defense locked down after a slow start.”
Despite the loss, Verrochi insisted that it is a positive for his team to play top non-league competition and challenge his players early in the season.
He said, “Give credit to them; they’re bigger, faster, stronger than we are right now, but my kids worked their butts off. I think the better team won…but we played them really tough for three quarters.”
Franklin (2-1) will get back into league play on Wednesday with a trip to Sharon.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.