Franklin Rebels prevail and will defend state title Friday
By Jeff Keeling
10 p.m.: They were talented, speedy and unbeaten, but Science Hill High School’s boys soccer team couldn’t overcome the Franklin Rebels Wednesday night in a state semifinal in Murfreesboro.
A physical Franklin team built a 2-0 halftime lead in an initial 40 minutes that saw the Toppers struggle to threaten offensively. Franklin’s Matt Brady scored at the 16-minute mark, and Allister Berger made it 2-0 with five minutes remaining in the half.
Goalkeeper Grayson Garland made numerous saves as Franklin stayed largely in control against the 21-0-1 Toppers, who had won their quarterfinal game Tuesday night 4-1 over Cookeville.
Early in the second half, senior defender Max Vaughn was sent off with a red card. The Rebels took advantage with another Berger goal, and despite frenzied efforts to come back and several shots on goal, the Toppers couldn’t muster a score. Franklin finished the game outshooting Science Hill 15 to 11, and Garland tallied nine saves.
Franklin has been scored on in just three games this season, and had a differential of 68 goals for and 5 against going into the Science Hill game. The Rebels are the defending state champions, and were ranked Number 5 in the nation in Tuesday’s poll of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
That same poll ranked Science HIll 13th. Franklin is now unbeaten stretching back the past two seasons. The Toppers finish at 21-1-1, having made their third trip to state in the last four seasons.
Franklin will play Friday for the state championship. Science Hill’s impact players include many underclassmen, so coach Brandon Kind is sure to be looking to make another deep run in 2015.