Franklin Wins Back-to-Back Titles After Comeback at KP

Franklin Football
Franklin senior Luke Davis (6) hauls in a two-point conversion with 2:46 remaining, which lifted the Panthers to a come from behind win at rival King Philip and to a second straight Kelley-Rex title. (Josh Perry/

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip got the ball back up by seven points with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter of Thursday morning’s holiday matinee at Macktaz Field and went back to work with the ground game that had been nearly unstoppable for most of the game.

After running more than seven minutes off the clock, KP had first down from the Franklin 30 and looked like it was maybe one or two plays away from clinching the title-deciding showdown.

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Rudy Gately (21 carries, 116 yards) was stopped for a loss of three by Emmett Lackey. Quarterback Tommy McLeish took the next snap and went on a sweep around the left side, but Franklin read the play and pried the ball loose. Devine Johnson pounced on it at the 34 to give the visitors a chance with 6:11 on the clock.

Mike Davide (11 carries, 40 yards) broke free for a 13-yard gain into KP territory and Jase Lyons (20-of-27, 232 yards) hit Josh Ribeiro on the sideline. Ribeiro refused to go out of bounds, cutting back infield and eventually gaining 17 to the KP 28. After back-to-back completions to Luke Davis, Lyons kept it himself, looking for contact in the secondary and being brought down at the three. Davide finished the drive to bring the Panthers within one.

Instead of lining up for a Garrett Portesi extra point and potentially playing for overtime, Franklin coach Eian Bain rolled the dice and kept the offense on the field.

“Not for a second,” Bain said later, when asked if he thought about kicking. “We were going for two and then just onside kick it if we have to. We were going for the win right there and then make them have to make a decision too, do they stick with the offense they ran the whole game?”

Lyons dropped back and looked for Davis on a quick out-route a couple yards into the end zone. Davis (nine catches, 153 yards) made the diving grab and put the Panthers up 29-28 with only 2:46 left on the clock. The Franklin defense was able to limit KP to just one first down, sealing a win and a share of its second straight Kelley-Rex division title.

“We just had a good matchup,” Bain said. “We had a play call for both sides and when they adjusted from the empty backfield, we had Luke one-on-one, which is what we wanted.”

Davis was thrilled at his coach’s decision to stick with the offense in that situation. He said, “I was hoping for him to say that. Obviously, KP is a good team and they have their drives, so just to get that extra point was huge. I had full confidence in Jase and the offense to make the play, so it was a great call. Trust coach.”

KP coach Brian Lee rued uncharacteristic turnovers from his team that led to two Franklin touchdowns, including the eventual winner, but also praised Bain for his call to go for two at the end.

“We were just about another first down away from giving (Matthew) Kelley a chance for a field goal and kudos to them,” Lee explained. “Bottom line, we’ve got to hold onto the ball. We turned it over twice. Once on an exchange – points, and down here – points.”

He added, “The guts on coach to go for two. That’s a great call. I love that stuff, going for that win here. It shows that program is in good hands.”

Franklin came into Thanksgiving an underdog against KP, which is heading back to its fifth Div. 2 Super Bowl in six seasons, but the Panthers were riding the confidence of beating the Warriors last year (ending a decade without a win in this series) and got off to a roaring start. On third and five, Lyons went deep down the sideline to Davis, who hauled in the pass then cut back towards the hash mark and raced past a pair of defenders for a 69-yard TD.

“He does everything,” Bain said about Davis. “He’s going to be impossible to replace. I don’t think the kid ever gets tired, I don’t think he ever doesn’t smile, he always goes and he does it right way too.”

Davis noted, “Being on that team last year, we got that feeling of success. We’ve been working at it all year, had KP in the back of the mind all year until it was finally Thanksgiving week. Having that success last year, helped us know what it meant and know what the feeling is to win this game.”

KP responded like it usually does, but lining up behind its big offensive line and running right at the heart of the defense. On their first drive of the day, KP marched 64 yards on nine plays, all of them runs between the tackles. Gately had five carries on the drive, including a 16-yard rush inside the Franklin 10. William Astorino (14 carries, 109 yards) punched it from the two to tie it.

Kyle Abbott and Christopher Sesay each sacked Lyons to end Franklin’s next possession. KP got the ball back and went 57 yards on eight plays, again all runs right up the middle, to take the lead. Astorino and Gately split the carries on the drive, with Astorino finding the end zone on a 12-yard run. Kelley’s extra point made it 14-7.

Franklin drove into KP territory, but David Constantine’s interception ended the drive at the Warriors 12. On third and 17, a fumbled hand-off was recovered by Jack Nutter to give the Panthers the ball at the 18. The Panthers took advantage, as Lyons recovered from being sacked twice (by Carson Meier and Astorino) to hit Davis for a six-yard score, tying the game with 46 seconds left in the half.

Coming out of the locker room, the Warriors took control. A seven-play, 65-yard drive kicked things off. Abott broke free for 16 yards into Franklin’s half of the field and then Astorino ran over defenders on a 32-yard rush down to the 13. Four plays later, Astorino got his third score of the day from two yards out.

The KP defense stepped up to stop Franklin. Gately was playing centerfield and he read a deep ball to Davis on the sideline, coming across to pick it off and return it down to the Panthers 26. On second down, McLeish went play-action and hit Astorino in the right flat. The running back did the rest, weaving his way to the end zone for a 28-14 lead.

Momentum was swinging back-and-forth and this time it was Franklin’s turn to steal it back. The Panthers went 69 yards in nine plays to get back into the game. A pass interference call got the ball to the 27. After and eight-yard pass to Derek Dubriske (five catches, 32 yards), Lyons fired a strike to Davis, who went up and over the defensive back to pull in the 19-yard score.

Killing the clock and killing off the game is usually KP’s forte, but the Panthers found a way to force the turnover and give themselves one last chance to retain the Kelley-Rex crown. When they found the end zone, there was no question of going for the tie, only for the win.

Bain said of the comeback that earned Franklin (7-3) its first back-to-back league titles since 1971, “King Philip makes you play a certain way. You’ve got to get a little grimy, you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and you’ve got to bang with them. Today we got hit in the mouth plenty, there were any number of times where we could’ve said, ‘You know what, we had a good run,’ but these guys never gave up.”

King Philip (9-2) will play Catholic Memorial in the D2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night at 8:00. It is a rematch of last year’s title game, but Lee was adamant that the upcoming final had no impact on his team’s play on Thursday.

“Up 14, that’s something where you feel like you should be able to control it and we just couldn’t,” Lee said. “No. 6 (Davis) is a dude and the quarterback gets the ball out on time and that puts you under pressure. They kept making plays, kept fighting, and kept believing and that’s a hard thing to combat.”

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Franklin Falls To Barnstable In Five-Set Thriller

Franklin volleyball
Franklin senior Rachael Taylor attacks the ball in the second set against Barnstable. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Right until the end, Franklin refused to give up.

Barnstable moved within a set of winning the Division 1 state quarterfinal with a dominating third set and had all of the momentum on their side with a 2-1 lead, and an early advantage in the fourth set.

Instead, fourth-seeded Franklin erased a four-point deficit with a 5-1 burst to pull even at 12-12. They took their first lead of the fourth set right out of a timeout and never trailed the rest of the way, outscoring the visiting Red Hawks 18-6 to tie the match at 2-2 and force a deciding fifth set. Barnstable, the fifth seed, pulled away after the switch to secure the 3-2 win and advance to the Division 1 state semifinal.

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After splitting the first four sets, each winning in dominating fashion and each winning a close game, the fifth started exactly as one would predict between two of the best teams in the state.

The first 14 points were split right down the middle, with neither team leading by more than a point. A kill from Makayla Kuykendall (12 kills, seven digs) helped Mansfield take a lead at 2-1, and a roll shot down the line from the freshman made it 5-4 in favor of the hosts. Junior Grace Lacerda placed a tip perfectly in to make it 6-6, and a blast down the line from junior Taylor Lacerda made it 7-7. A service error gave the Red Hawks the edge, 8-7, at the switch.

Barnstable middle Lindsay Jones dropped in a tip, came up with a block, found a hole in the Franklin defense with a roll, and then added a kill for a 4-0 run that gave the visitors the separation they needed. Franklin fought off a pair of match points, getting a push from Rachael Taylor and an ace from Taylor Lacerda (14 kills, nine digs) to get within four but the Red Hawks closed it out for the win.

“I’m so happy with the way they played,” said Franklin head coach Samantha Redmond. “In that fifth set, when [Barnstable] went on their four-point run right after we switched sides, it could have been very easy for the girls to throw in the towel but they fought until the very last point. I’m so proud of them for that and for just continuing to fight. Losing is never fun, especially at this point in the season, but they played so well. Barnstable did a great job and we played really well too.”

Although Franklin didn’t have the best start to the match, they showed their fight in the opening set. Barnstable, which brought a large group of supporters on the road, raced out to a 7-0 lead to start things off. But the Panthers were able to shake off the nerves and won 12 of the next 17 points, getting key double blocks from Jennifer Soohoo (12 digs) and Taylor (five kills, three blocks), as well as Sasha Tracey and Grace Lacerda. Aces from Kuykendall and senior libero Georgia Harvey followed by a back row kill from Kuykendall tied it 12-12.

It stayed close the rest of the way, a block from Tracey (33 assists, eight digs) closing the gap to 21-19, but Barnstable had some success swinging from the middle and closed it out 25-21.

Franklin looked like a different team in the second set, finding their groove midway through after an even start. Holding a two-point lead at 9-7, the Panthers rattled off a 9-2 run to pull away. Taylor Lacerda dropped in a tip, had a kill from the right side, and added an ace, Taylor had a block and a tip kill, and Kuykendall had a big kill on an outside swing as Franklin established an 18-9 lead.

Barnstable broke the run with two points but Franklin closed it out with a 5-0 run, a kill from Grace Lacerda (three kills, three blocks) in the middle off a set from Tracey, and then three straight strong serves from Soohoo, including two aces.

The third couldn’t have gone much worse for the Panthers. A kill from Grace Lacerda cut into Barnstable’s lead at 7-4 but the Red Hawks went on an 11-0 run with Franklin committing six unforced errors in that stretch. Franklin finally got back on the board but a 7-3 run closed it out, 25-8.

“It didn’t look good after three but I think it was just about reminding them that they did just play that well in the second set and winning the way they did,” Redmond said. “A loss is a loss, doesn’t matter if it’s by two or however many it was in that third, but you can still work your butt off and come back in the next set.

“They played the game they know how to play in the fourth. We were timid in the third. I don’t care if you miss a point when you’re swinging, I’d be more upset if they just played safe. We wanted to hit the ball, we wanted to play our game.”

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A kill from Taylor Lacerda preceded a good serve from Kuykendall, and a tip from Taylor brought Franklin even at 12-12 in the fourth. Harvey recorded an ace, Taylor had a kill off the block, and a kill from Soohoo on the right side made it 17-15 in the fourth. A kill from Kuykendall forced a timeout from the visitors at 20-17, but Grace Lacerda came up with a big block on the first point after the break to keep the momentum with the Panthers. Kuykendall had back-to-back aces and the Lacerda twins combined for a double block to end it, 25-17.

Franklin volleyball finishes the season at 16-4 with three of its losses coming to teams in the state semifinals (Barnstable, Lincoln-Sudbury, and King Philip) and the fourth on the road at Attleboro, who made the Round of 8. It was another strong season for the Panthers, who deployed a mostly new lineup this season.

“We didn’t just lose four seniors [from last year], they were four huge seniors that started and played every second of every game,” Redmond said. “We had a lot of young blood getting minutes in this year. They had to go through that growing process, kind of like a growth spurt. It was a bit of a roller coaster, a lot of things happened this year but I think it brought them together and brought them closer. It taught them to work together and to trust one another. You can’t win alone, in volleyball you have to rely on your teammates because you physically can’t do it yourself.”

Franklin Moving On After Hard-Fought Win Over A-B

Franklin volleyball
Franklin junior goes up for an attack in the second set against Acton-Boxborough. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — When Franklin earned the final point of the match to seal a win, their traditional jubilation was replaced by a sigh of relief.

The Panthers were three points away from completing a sweep of #13 Acton-Boxborough before the visitors rattled off a late run and prolonged the match with a win in the third set.

Franklin played its best volleyball in the fourth set to create its lone double-digit lead of the match. And once again, just three points away from victory, the Revolution came charging back. Acton-Boxborough used an 8-2 run, fighting off five straight match points to get within three points. But a handling error gave Franklin the final point and the Panthers closed out a 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 25-21) win in a Division 1 Round of 16 matchup.

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“I think across the board, we could have done better at pretty much everything,” said Franklin head coach Samantha Redmond. ”I think we all felt it, I think we’re all aware of the fact that we could have done better. At this point in the year, we should do better.”

There wasn’t much separation in the third set, the largest lead at any point was five points early on for the Panthers. After some back and forth, the hosts were able to get a little breathing room on a kill from senior Rachael Taylor to make it 22-19. Out of a timeout, a service error and hitting error shrunk the lead down to one, and a kill put A-B ahead.

A Franklin timeout couldn’t stop the Revolution’s momentum and they added a kill to take a 23-22 lead. Taylor (nine kills, three blocks) used a tip to bring Franklin level, but A-B closed it out with a kill and a net violation to take it 26-24.

That seemed to ignite the hosts, who turned a 6-6 fourth set into a more comfortable lead with an 8-0 burst. Junior Sasha Tracey (40 assists, four blocks) came up with a big block on an outside attack, junior Taylor Lacerda had back-to-back kills, including a perfect line shot, and senior Georgia Harvey (15 digs) dropped in an ace.

Taylor had a kill and then got another point after sending the defense scrambling on a nice tip. Freshman Makayla Kuykendall picked a nice spot deep on the court to cap the run, giving Franklin a 14-6 lead.

A good swing by Kuykendall (14 kills, 12 digs) was popped back up by the A-B defense only to be swatted right back down at the net by the freshman, junior Jennifer Soohoo followed with a strong serve that couldn’t be returned, and junior Grace Lacerda (four kills, five blocks) went up and put down a free ball with a block as Franklin pushed its lead to 20-11.

Lacerda (13 kills, 11 digs) drilled one off of the block and an A-B error presented Franklin with match point. But it was the Revolution that rallied with three kills, an ace, and a strong serve, and suddenly, with a 5-0 burst, the visitors were within three at 24-21. But Franklin snapped the run as A-B had a handling error to end it.

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“It’s something that we’ve been trying to focus on, this isn’t the regular season anymore,” Redmond said. “Every team that we’re going to play, deserves to be here. You can’t coast, you need to play and finish things when you have the chance.

“I hope this lights the fire for them. I hope this is eye-opening enough for them that if they don’t want the season to end, and they want to keep playing, they have to go get it.”

Franklin volleyball (16-3) is set to take on #5 Barnstable in a Division 1 state quarterfinal matchup, with the date and time to be announced.

Franklin’s McGrath Adds Another Title to Her Resume

Lauren McGrath
Former Franklin standout Lauren McGrath (18) helped Endicott go on the road and win its third straight CCC Tournament title. (David Le/Endicott Athletics)

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The Endicott women’s volleyball team hadn’t lost a conference match since the 2018 season, so it came as a bit of a shock when the Gulls dropped a 3-1 result at neighboring Gordon in the final week of the regular season. It meant that Gordon would host the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament and maybe deny Endicott a third straight trip to the NCAA DIII Tournament.

“We definitely did not like losing to them,” said senior setter Lauren McGrath. “I think we’re definitely motivated since that was such a tough loss and everyone knew, you could see on our faces how upset we were. We just need to improve and fix our mistakes and we know what we need to do now.”

The former Franklin standout and 2018 Player of the Year noted how much fun it would be to celebrate the conference title on Gordon’s court and, a week later, she got to do just that.

Endicott swept Nichols and Western New England in the first two rounds to get a rematch with Gordon in the CCC final. McGrath finished with 35 assists, eight digs, two aces, and a kill, as the Gulls swept aside their rivals to win a third straight CCC crown and fifth in the past six years. It also secured a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for McGrath.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride but I think we’ve shown out and beaten some good competition,” McGrath said in a phone conversation before the Gulls opened the CCC Tournament against Nichols. “I think we’ve put a lot of effort, us as upperclassmen, we’ve grown with the underclassmen a lot and it’s been really fun. Everyone is working so hard.”

Success is nothing new for McGrath, who started at setter for Franklin as a sophomore and her senior year helped the Panthers win the Kelley-Rex division title and win the Div. 1 Central/West title for the first time. She was also a standout for her club teams, Smash and Envy. In her final season at Endicott, McGrath was determined to add another title to her impressive resume.

“I think that winning at Gordon would make the season amazing,” she said. “To prove that we can beat them and win the championship would be a great feeling. Winning at home with everyone you know, a big crowd, is amazing, but I think winning on the road in the championship would be awesome. Celebrate on their court, and we will for sure.”

Sports have been an integral part of McGrath’s life. She played multiple sports growing up, picking up volleyball in seventh grade. When she arrived at Franklin, McGrath chose volleyball over field hockey that fall, a decision that has carried her all the way to the NCAA Tournament and to be among the career leaders in assists at Endicott.

Although volleyball was a serious commitment in high school, playing at the collegiate level was a new challenge. Combining a tough practice schedule with lifting and with classes took things to another level.

“It’s time-consuming and you have to manage your time well,” she explained. “College is a different culture, I’d say it’s more of a family. We’re all very close, we hang out all the time outside of volleyball. It’s a different feeling because it means so much more than playing in high school. I know it’s DIII, but it is very important to all of us and we all depend on each other. It’s a lot of work but work that I’m willing to put in.”

As a freshman at Endicott, McGrath didn’t get many opportunities to be the setter. She took on a role as a defensive specialist, only getting the chance to set against some of the weaker teams on the schedule. Her sophomore year was going to be the first chance for McGrath to take the reins of the offense, but then COVID hit and the pandemic shut down the season.

“We had to split up practices,” McGrath recalled. “Only some of us could go on one side of the court and it was half and half, they called it pods. It was difficult because we were separated from our own team and you would get close to the people you were with every day. It was a little hard to even get motivation because practice was all over the place, we didn’t even know what was going to happen next, who had COVID, it put a damper on us”

The pandemic was a reminder of how short the college career is and added an extra layer of conviction to come out strong for the 2021 season.

“We did get really close because we quarantined in the same hotel together,” McGrath said. “We were all just joking around, talking because we were all in one hotel room, so it was kind of fun. We all love volleyball and we all want to play as much as we can, so we got captain’s practices in the spring and we tried to play as much as we could.”

In high school, McGrath was the lone setter, bearing the responsibility for the Panthers’ attack. At Endicott, McGrath has shared that burden and she appreciates being able to lean on her fellow setters, sophomore Amelia Beigel and freshman Ella Koelb, during practices and matches.

“In high school I kind of felt like I was alone, like it was all up to me,” she said. “There was a lot of pressure and I just had to figure it out myself. It’s nice to have other setters who understand what you’re going through and how to go about the game.”

McGrath added, “Being a setter we have a special, unique bond with each other. During our warmups we have this one part where everyone gets off the court and it’s just the setters, all three of us do it for two minutes each and we give feedback the whole time. We’re looking out for each other.”

After a decade of playing volleyball, and despite being only 22, McGrath is feeling the wear and tear of her career and said that this is likely her final season. As she looked ahead to her final college games, McGrath was focused on making the most of the experience, especially pushing to get a win in the NCAA Tournament.

“I love volleyball more than anything,” she said. “I think it’s the best sport to play, the best sport to watch, as much as I’m going to hate life without volleyball and without playing a sport, I definitely think it’s my time to throw in the towel.”

“It made me who I am today,” McGrath said. “I have that sports mentality, the motivation for everything because of sports. I think sports led me to be successful. Even though it’s a lot of time and effort, I think it’s made me a hard-working person and I think I realize what’s most important to me now.”

Endicott will face Salisbury (Md.) in the first round of the NCAA DIII Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Silloway Gymnasium on the campus of Wesleyan University.

Panthers Roar Past Belmont Behind Zub’s Hat Trick

Franklin girls soccer Anya Zub
Franklin junior Anya Zub celebrates after completing her hat trick in the second half against Belmont. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Behind a pair of goals in each half and a strong 80-minute performance, Franklin’s postseason run got off to a great start.

Junior Anya Zub scored a hat trick and sophomore Kelly O’Connor added another as the 8th-seeded Panthers quelled the excitement of the visiting 25th-seeded Marauders of Belmont with a convincing 4-0 decision in a Division 1 Round of 32 matchup.

“We had a problem early in the year not coming out strong enough so we’ve been pushing and pushing the idea of coming out hard and ready to play,” said Franklin head coach Tom Geysen, “They came out hard tonight and at halftime, we just talked about it being an 80-minute game. The first 40 was yours, you have to make the second 40 yours too. They came out and did exactly that.”

Belmont was fresh off a 3-1 win over Brockton in the preliminary round and entered Monday’s clash with a high excitement and intensity level. But it took just minutes for Franklin to register its first serious scoring chance and the Panthers’ back four of Alli Powderly, Lily Deforge, Norah Anderson, and Katie Ewald denied the visitors of any dangerous scoring chances all game.

It took just five minutes for Franklin to start knocking on the door defensively. O’Connor flicked on a ball from Deforge to herself in behind the defense and was in alone on goal but forced the keeper to a big save off the line.

Less than 10 minutes later, O’Connor snuck in behind the defense on a service and beat the keeper to the ball, but her bid was just wide at the far post.

O’Connor and the Panthers finally cashed in in the 18th minute on a set piece. Anderson delivered a ball into the area that the keeper came off the line to try and get, but only managed to get one hand to it. The ball fell in behind and O’Connor was there to smash it home from inches out to make sure it crossed the line.

The Marauders didn’t have a ton of chances, but their two best came minutes after Franklin’s first half strikes. In the 21st minute, Belmont got a look on goal with a shot just outside the 18 but Rachel Welch was easily able to collect.

Franklin doubled its lead just minutes before the halftime break. Powderly’s quick throw found Tori Carmignani, and her ball was deflected by a defender to O’Connor. The defense was able to recover to prevent a shot from the sophomore, but Zub made a nice overlapping run around and O’Connor laid it off. Zub blasted a low left-footed shot that got through the keeper and in to make it 2-0 in the 24th minute.

It was more of the same for the Panthers in the second half. After 10 minutes had expired, Franklin junior Olivia Costa nearly added to the hosts’ lead but was denied by the post. Senior Avery Greco looped a ball in to O’Connor, who cut back and sent a cross to the far post. Costa ran onto it and, despite a tough bounce, got her foot to it but it hit off the near post and stayed out.

Greco and Costa linked up a minute later, the former dropping a pass off for senior Bridget Leo’s blast from distance but it went just wide.

Franklin’s pressure up top paid off again as Zub got her second in the 60th minute. Deforge launched a ball from her own half over the defense that Zub was able to get to first, using her left foot to get into space and then using her right to lift over the oncoming keeper for a 3-0 advantage.

Ewald won a challenge on the left side to freshman Mia Eglintine, who connected with O’Connor. O’Connor battled her way into some space before finding Carmignani in the middle of the pitch. Carmignani carried at the defense before slotting a perfect through ball to Zub, who finished on her left to complete the hat trick in the 34th minute.

“Anya and Kelly, the two of them, plus Olivia Costa, she’s the same way, they just go forever,” Geysen said of the constant pressure. “So you have those three running up front, they are putting a lot of pressure on the ball and on the defense.”

Franklin girls soccer (15-3-1) will host #9 Wellesley (9-1-6), who took down Marshfield 2-0. The game is currently scheduled for Thursday at 4:00.

Lovell’s OT Game-Winner Lifts Franklin Over Belmont

Franklin boys soccer Trey Lovell
Franklin senior Trey Lovell, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime, makes a pass in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Even in his 52nd year at the helm of the Franklin boys soccer program, legendary head coach Fran Bositis still gets nervous for playoff games.

Finally, in the 87th minute, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Senior Trey Lovell scored on a left-footed shot from 25 yards out in the seventh minute of the first overtime to give the 10th-seeded Panthers a 1-0 win over upset-minded #23 Belmont.

“I knew right away,” Lovell said of his shot, which floated over the reach of the outstretched Marauder’s keeper. “We didn’t have a lot of shots in the game so we were just trying to do what we could to get a shot off. We got the one that counted so that’s all that matters.”

Junior Andrew O’Neill carried possession over midfield before spraying it out wide to the right wing to senior Will Kryzak. Kryzak carried forward before four Belmont players ascended on him, defending in numbers like they had all game. Kryzak cut back and hit a square pass to Lovell, who used a touch with his right to set up his left-footed blast that found the back of the net for the winner.

“It was a hell of a strike,” Bositis said. “I thought we did a pretty good job with the wind in our face in that first overtime and we were fortunate to have Trey get that shot, and it was a beautiful shot that’s for sure.”

The win sends Franklin into the Division 1 Round of 16 against #26 Leominster, who upset Framingham in penalty kicks.

The game went into sudden-victory overtime and 80 scoreless minutes of regulation. The first 40 minutes featured a lot of pace from both sides, and a lot of challenges and changes in possession, but not a ton of genuine scoring chances by either side.

Of the few chances in the opening half, Franklin junior goalie Jack Perlman had the highlight stop. In the 15th minute, Belmont’s Sachil Kenkre danced his way into space before lacing a shot that looked destined to find its way just inside the post and in but Perlman made a strong diving stop to parry it out.

“I thought Belmont worked hard and pressured us,” Bositis said. “They restricted our time and space and I thought we handled it as well as we could have.”

For the first half hour of the second half, Franklin established control of the play, dictating the pace of play. It took less than two minutes for the hosts to register a good scoring chance.

Sophomore Garret Scagliarini used the outside of his right foot to play a ball down the right flank and Kryzak ran onto it with speed, smashing a hard shot just wide of the far post, inches from the opener.

Just over 15 minutes into the second half, the Panthers found more success down the right side. Junior Bradley Herndon stepped up to win a challenge in the middle third and made a good run forward, connecting with Kryzak for a quick 1-2 before firing a shot at the near post that forced a save.

Scagliarini set up Franklin’s final good chance of regulation, coming away with a clearance attempt from the Marauders, setting it down before laying off a pass to Lovell for a shot but it tailed wide at the far post.

After controlling play for 30 minutes, the Panthers suddenly found themselves on the back foot for the final 10. Belmont continued to get forward, getting the ball over the top and getting a handful of chances in the area.

Franklin’s defense, which had Scagliarini and junior Gustavo Martinez on the outsides, Herndon and Will Klawson man-marking in the middle, and junior Rex Cinelli as a sweeper, dealt with the chances though there were some nervy moments, including a wide-open bid from the Marauders that went wide in the final moments.

“I thought our team played well defensively,” Bositis said. “I don’t know what happened for the last five minutes…but I thought Rex did a really good job in the back. We made one adjustment because early on in the first half, with their two front runners, we were giving them too much time and space. We just took Will Klawson and Bradley [Herndon] and just had them mark them and Rex essentially played as a sweeper. We pushed Noah [Cain] into the midfield instead of playing at the six.

“It seemed to help with our marking but we just never really got on track offensively. We didn’t take a lot of shots, and Belmont had a lot to do with that.”

Overtime went without many chances for the first five-plus minutes, though the Panthers got good work out of junior Hansy Jacques up top. Paxton Rosen came in to play goal and handled anything that came over the top of the defense.

Franklin boys soccer (15-3-1) will host Leominster later this week, currently scheduled for Thursday at 6:00.