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WENDELL — It seemed as if Franklin Academy’s girls soccer team was going to experience their first loss of the season at East Wake Academy down 2-0 at halftime, but the Patriots fought back to force overtime and scored the game-winning goal to win 3-2 Monday.
Franklin Academy did not get off to a good start with two early goals scored against them. Head coach John Crosland kept his players motivated by reminding them that they have been in this kind of situation before.
“We do a lot of situational practices,” Crosland said. “At halftime, I told the girls that we’ve practiced this. I told the seniors to settle in and lead the girls to the victory. We knew we could outplay East Wake if we played our identity ball. The girls went out there and executed.”
Franklin Academy got back into the game with two goals to tie the match. One was by Emma Bailey and the other was from Chloe Armitage. Kennedy Capps and Shae Wells recorded an assist each in the second half.
“We were really frustrated coming off the field going into halftime,” Capps said. “We could not put a pass together and everything was so unorganized. All the seniors talked to each other and we knew what we had to do in the second half and it all clicked for us later.”
Neither team scored in the first period of overtime. With less than two minutes left in the second half of overtime, Grayson Kelly fed a long pass to Capps, who took on her defender one-on-one and chipped in the game-winning goal in the top center of the net.
“That was a great ball from Grayson,” Capps said. “Right before we went into the second overtime period, I told her to find that kind of pass.”
Crosland said seeing Capps score that goal off of Kelly’s feed was the result of trying the same play over and over again until it worked.
“That opportunity for Kennedy was there all game,” Crosland said. “It finally connected after repetition. Grayson has been making those passes all year and she finally connected on one today. We had to rely on our training.”
With the overtime win over East Wake Academy, Franklin Academy won the 1A North Central conference for the fourth year in a row. The Patriots stay undefeated with a record of 18-0 and 13-0 in conference play. Franklin Academy is keeping this win streak going under new head coach Crosland, who is also the school’s boys soccer head coach. Crosland was an assistant coach under previous head coach Kambyl Borries last year and has kept the winning tradition going.
“Kambyl wanted to explore some more in her professional development and she couldn’t take the time to coach this year,” Crosland said. “She approached me about coaching this season. My wife and I prayed about it and we felt like it would be a smooth transition for us. It’s great to have an incredible staff and a talented group of girls returning this year.”
In the past four seasons, Franklin Academy has gone 85-6-1 with three straight 1A state championship appearances and a state title in 2017. With an undefeated record this year, Capps and the rest of the girls feel like they can play even better than last spring.
“We’re pretty confident right now,” Capps said. “We’re going to do our best to win the state championship. We’ve got this.”
The only other undefeated 1A girls soccer team in the state is Union Academy, the school who beat Franklin Academy in the state championship last year. The Patriots will have a No. 1 overall seed in the east region for the state playoffs. Crosland wants to make sure his girls are prepared for the journey ahead.
“We have to control our training environment,” Crosland said. “You never know what you’re going to face. The previous coach, Kambyl Borries, has laid a great foundation here. We know what it takes to win at the end.”