The Franklin Panthers, who came in averaging a league-best 6.1 goals per game, saw it as a challenge.
Franklin’s offense roared to life in the second half, scoring a pair of goals in a five-minute span, the latter turning out to be the game-winner as the Panthers claimed a 3-2 decision over Foxboro.
“We wanted to challenge them, we have a good offense but we knew we had to go out there and play hard,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They pack it in [defensively], they are strong with their double teaming, and they do a good job of forcing you to play on the left side of the field. I give them credit for that, it slowed us down.
“Melissa [Bordieri] is a great coach, they always play us hard. I was hopeful we could penetrate the defense, even without one of our top scorers [Hanna Richardson].”
After trading goals in the first half, Foxboro came out on the front foot in the second half and grabbed its first lead. The Warriors scored 34 seconds into the frame as freshman Mya Waryas one-timed a cross from sophomore Kate Collins, putting the hosts ahead 2-1.
While Foxboro had its first lead, the goal seemed to spark the Panthers.
Franklin controlled a good stretch of the second half after going down a goal. The pressure paid off as junior Amanda Lewandowski used her speed to beat a pair of defenders along the left side before firing a cross into the middle where senior Olivia Rondeau tapped in her second goal, tying the game 2-2 with 20:16 to play.
Just under five minutes later, the offense came up with another strike for the Panthers. Lewandowski was the catalyst once again, gaining possession inside the circle before firing a shot, forcing Foxboro goalie Hannah Trombly (six saves) into a stop. The rebound fell right to Rondeau and she buried the loose ball, completing her hat trick and putting Franklin ahead, 3-2, with 15:21 left.
“I think their goal was an eye-opener,” Hess said. “A goal like that can go either way, you can fold or you can try to right that wrong and I think it sparked us.f
“We came out flat [in the second half], I think we took them too lightly because they are good. We needed a spark, I told them that the second half, it was their game and to go out and take it. We knew what we needed to fix, so let’s go. We started our passing game and I think that led to us playing better.”
Foxboro got its offense backing gear late in the game and made a couple of pushes up the field, including in the final minute, but Franklin senior Elizabeth Clark came up with a clearance to help seal the win.
“I think Franklin started to insert themselves and we had some breakdowns that they capitalized on,” said Foxboro head coach Melissa Bordieri. “I thought that we were still in it right until the end, and we were a little unlucky with some of the situations, but on the whole, I thought Franklin really put the pressure on.
“There was one span in the second half that it felt like we didn’t have a minute to gather ourselves and create some offense because they did a really good job pressuring us. Once we did get some offense going, it was late in the game.”
Franklin took the lead in the seventh minute of the game on its first shot of the game. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney helped the Panthers transition into offense, finding Lewandowski, who dribbled past a couple of Foxboro defenders. Drawing the last line of defense, Lewandowski dropped a pass off to Stephanie Bell, who ripped a cross to the far post for Rondeau to tap in.
Foxboro tied the game just over seven minutes later. A corner forced Franklin goalie Neilee Hess into a save but the ball wasn’t cleared out and Mya Waryas smacked the ball into the net to make it 1-1.
The Warriors had a chance to take a lead at the end of the first half with three consecutive corners, but Foxboro was unable to register a shot on goal. Franklin’s Maeve Ledwith sniffed out a play, intercepting a pass before making a clear to keep the teams level.
“We just have to capitalize on our chances,” Bordieri said. “We had a lot of corners that we just left goals out there, you have to score on one of those. It felt like it could have gone either way, the girls worked hard to create chances but I think finishing was the issue today.”
Franklin field hockey (9-0-0 Hockomock, 9-1-0 overall) welcomes Attleboro to Beaver Street on Monday while Foxboro (5-1-3, 6-1-3) will try and bounce back from its first setback on the same day, hosting North Attleboro.