After an overtime thriller in 2014, and one-goal win exactly one year ago, the top-seeded Panthers left the dramatics behind, cruising to a 16-7 win over second-seeded Concord-Carlisle on the turf of Milford High School.
“It wasn’t easy, Concord is an awesome team, they’re well coached, they have really good players but I think we were just prepared and peaking at the right time,” said Franklin head coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “It was definitely nice to have a big lead though.”
While Franklin had wins over eight of the state’s top 20 teams – and a handful of wins over teams just outside the rankings – the Panthers certainly overlooking the Patriots.
“We had some great competition this year but our thing this year was that playoffs is a whole new season,” said junior Jordan Jette. “We know at this time, anyone can beat anyone, you never know. The expectations are high for us so we’re just going to work that much harder to get here.”
“We’ve been playing hard teams all year so I don’t even think our young players were fazed,” Igoe Guarino said. “They don’t play like freshmen or sophomores, so it’s nice you can’t even tell we have such a young team.”
It didn’t take long for Franklin’s offense to get going as Caroline Lousnbury took a feed from Jette and opened the scoring just 22 seconds into the game. Before 90 seconds elapsed, Franklin doubled its lead with a goal from freshman Erin Walsh.
While the Panthers never trailed, Concord-Carlisle battled back to make it a 3-3 game with just over 10 minutes to play.
Franklin had a quick response though, Lauren Bissanti putting the Panthers back ahead on a feed from Annie Walsh, Walsh scoring on a cut in front on a feed from Jette, and Erin Walsh batting a loose ball out of the air into the net to make it 6-3.
“I think it’s just the pride in the team,” Jette said of the Panthers winning their third title in four years. “Coming into high school, you know about Franklin lacrosse because it’s been so successful for so long now. Everyone that comes into the program, we just want to live up to those expectations every year. We all work really hard, our coach works hard, and we just all work pretty well together.”
“I think the girls come in and we have a culture of hard work,” Igoe Guarino said. “The girls coming in each year know that and they come in in shape, with good stick work and they are playing more often. I think our alumni and current players have done a nice job of building that culture.”
Shortly after the Patriots cut the deficit to two, Franklin went up a man for a misconduct call on C-C. The Panthers took advantage as Annie Walsh weaved her way through the Patriots’ and found the back of the net.
“Annie does everything really well…draws, ground balls, she plays defense, and then she can score,” Igoe Guarino said. “She’s probably one of our most improved players this year in terms of shooting and field vision and you need a player like that to play well in games like this, and she has done it all tournament.”
With under a minute to play, Jette found Annie Walsh right in front for another goal and freshman Kelsey McCallum completed Franklin’s 6-1 run off a restart with just seven seconds to play in the half to make it a 9-4 game.
The Patriots scored just 17 seconds into the second half to make it a four goal game but Annie Walsh responded a minute later to make it 10-5. And two minutes after that, Annie Walsh was at it again, taking a feed from Kendall Reardon to make it 11-5.
Concord-Carlisle scored to cut it to 11-6 and quickly gained possession back after another draw win, but Franklin freshman goalie Gianna Cameron (10 saves) came up with big stop to give possession back to the Panthers.
“We talked about playing defense as unit, not so much one on one defense,” Igoe Guarino said.
“I think they did a great job playing team defense and shutting down some of their best players. Gianna came up with some huge stops too. And that’s just a huge momentum shift when we can get the ball back.”
Bissanti (from Erin Walsh) and Concord-Carlisle’s Margaret Grace traded goals to keep the lead at five as the game clock ticked under 10 minutes to play.
If there was any hope of a comeback, Franklin finished the game with an exclamation point – scoring four goals over the final 9:24 of play.
Jette netted her first on a feed from Reardon, Annie Walsh scored her sixth and seventh tallies of the game and Reardon capped the scoring with a strong individual effort with just under two minutes left.
Franklin girls lacrosse (22-1) advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on the winner of Westboro (18-0) and Longmeadow (21-1) at Babson College. The game is schedule for either Monday or Tuesday night.