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It didn’t take long for Franklin Academy to take back the lead. Two minutes later, Mateo Echevarria kicked in a goal to put the Patriots up 3-2. However, Raleigh Charter scored again off another penalty kick four minutes later to tie the game again at 3-3. Then with 17 minutes left in the match, Espinoza gave the advantage back to his Patriots with the long shot from the side. “Raw emotions helped us get through this one,” Espinoza said. “Raleigh Charter has been our rivals for a long time. We just wanted it more.” After going up by one goal, Franklin Academy held strong on defense for the remaining 17 minutes. The Patriots kept the Phoenix from scoring long enough to win their second 1A east regional championship in three years. Franklin Academy and Raleigh Charter have had quite a few battles in recent years. The last time the Patriots won regionals was when they beat the Phoenix 2-1 in 2017. Then last year, Raleigh Charter beat Franklin Academy 4-3 in the regular season. Bailey was an assistant coach for Franklin Academy in all of those previous matches. He said beating the Phoenix for the first time as a head coach is something special to be proud of. “It’s good to beat Raleigh Charter,” Bailey said. “They are always a hard team to beat. Last year, we lost to them 4-3 on the road after being up 3-1. We knew Raleigh Charter can score. To beat a team like them, it feels good.” With the win, Franklin Academy improved to 24-2 overall. That’s the most wins in one season in program history. The Patriots are riding on an eight-game win streak. They hope that streak continues in the 1A state championship game Saturday. “I’ve told the guys all year to trust what we’re doing,” Bailey said. “These guys are good players, so they have to believe in themselves. If we keep our cool, we’ll have a good shot at the state title.” Franklin Academy will play Christ the King High School for the 1A state title at Koka Booth Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary Saturday at 6 p.m. “It feels great to win regionals,” Espinoza said. “It’s good to be back in the state title game. We just have to keep our heads and emotions in check. We just have to play our game.”