Stowell's First Half Assist, Goal Lift Franklin To Win

Victoria Stowell

Franklin’s Victoria Stowell had an assist and the game-winning goal for the Panthers. (Ryan Lanigan/
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Franklin scored two goals just over a minute apart at the end of the first half and crept closer to another Kelley-Rex crown with a 2-1 win over Mansfield.
Junior Victoria Stowell set up the game’s opening goal in the 35th minute and then scored herself just 65 seconds later.
“[Mansfield’s] always a very good team,” Franklin head coach Tom Geysen said. “I said to [Mansfield coach] Kevin [Smith], we’re mirror images of each other as far as the athletes go, the style of play, the aggressiveness, the skill level, we’re very evenly matched. We were the first time and we were this time. I hope we don’t have to see them in the tournament.”
The Panthers had all five serious scoring chances in the first half and converted on two of them. Just three minutes to the game, junior Megan Georges found herself with possession inside the area and fired a shot towards the near post, but Hornet goalie Ashley Cuneo was there to push it over for a corner. Midway through the first half, Bailey Knous fed Stowell out wide but her bid at the near post was covered up by Cuneo.
Finally in the 35th minute Franklin was able to break through. Stowell fired in a low cross into the six yard box and senior Erin Conley powered it home under Cuneo to make it 1-0.
Franklin carried the momentum, earning a corner kick just a minute later. As Stowell sent in a service, the cross curled enough that it found the back of the net to make it 2-0. It was the second time this year Stowell has scored straight off a corner kick.
Mansfield coach Kevin Smith conceded it was tough to give up two goals right before the break but was quick to credit Franklin.
“Yeah but they were two great goals,” Smith said. “The corner kick that hooked in was fantastic and then the combination on the first goal. That’s a quality team with quality soccer players.”
Mansfield had an ideal start to the second frame as they found the back of the net just over five minutes into the half. Senior Lindsey Bjorkman sent a low cross to the near post and junior Jen Kemp was able to get a touch to it to get it past Franklin goalie Dani Lonati.
But for the rest of the second half, neither team was able to muster up a serious scoring chance. The teams traded possessions but the Panthers continually forced Mansfield into a direct, long-ball approach. It was an adjustment from the first meeting between the two teams, as both coaches agreed Mansfield had the better of play in the middle the first time.
To disrupt the Hornets in the middle, Geysen deployed defending Hockomock League MVP Taylor Cogliano as a defensive midfielder.
“I thought they kind of controlled the midfield play the first time we played them so we made a couple of adjustments,” Geysen said. “We focused in on [Hannah] Reiter a little bit. I had scouted them and thought she was the best player of the field for them and she controls everything on the field. So we used Taylor, who’s usually up front, to defend her and Taylor did a great job.”
“Their adjustments from the first game to this game really negated how we were moving the ball,” Smith admitted. “I thought we moved the ball fantastic the first time so this game we had to adjust and play a little more direct, but that’s a testament to Franklin.”
Conley was playing in just her second game back this season after missing time due to illness. It’s the second player in a week that the Panthers have had return to score. Sophomore Megan Adams returned this past weekend to score the game winner of perennial power Central Catholic.
Mansfield drops to 7-3-4 while Franklin improves to 12-0-2 and are on track for another Kelley-Rex title.
“I tell the kids it’s been in our hands all along,” Geysen said. “I always tell them if they play the way they’re capable of playing, the only people who will beat them is themselves.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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