PLAINFIELD

Plainfield built a big second-half lead then was forced to survive a late rally Thursday to defeat Franklin 4-2 in a battle of the top two boys soccer teams in the Mid-State Conference.

Neither team scored in a first half that saw plenty of chances but no goals. That all changed in the second, and it didn’t take long for host Plainfield to take control of the game.

Both of the Quakers’ first two goals came in a span of four minutes, courtesy of senior Colin Paterniti. His first came in the 44th minute, when he redirected a cross just feet in front of the goal past Franklin keeper Dylan Bastin.

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Paterniti struck again just four minutes later, this time on a breakaway that saw him go nearly a quarter of the field unchallenged, leaving Bastin with little chance at making the save.

Plainfield (8-3-1, 4-0) scored its third goal after a direct kick opportunity from just outside the box went awry in the 53rd minute. The Quakers’ Jacob Leek salvaged the play by heading it forward to Brigham Anderson, who hammered a shot into the lower left quadrant of the goal from short range.

“We just lost our shape. We just lost what we had been good at for the past two or three weeks,” Franklin coach Tony Harris said. “They’re a good team, they’re a solid team. … Our goalie had a good night and he gave up four goals. It is what it is.”

The Quakers cruised from there, but Franklin made it interesting. The Grizzly Cubs broke the shutout in the 58th minute when Owen Mahin headed in a direct kick by E.J. Young. But Plainfield answered on a free kick just two minutes later when Leek converted a chance from just outside the box.

Franklin (7-3-1, 4-1 MSC) scored again in the 64th minute when Garrett Snyder converted an Owen Atkinson corner kick to cut the lead to two, but the Cubs couldn’t get any closer.

Overall, Plainfield outshot Franklin 18-11, including 12-6 on goal. Bastin stopped 10 shots for Franklin.

The loss puts a serious cramp in Franklin’s hopes of winning the league. But Harris knows that his team has a shot at an even bigger prize.

“The conference is important to us, it’s really important. We’ve won it three out of the last five years and that’s one of our major goals,” Harris said. “But we’re looking forward to the sectional. We get to host it and we like our chances.

“Center Grove has won it 20-some odd years in a row, but we want to be the team that does it and takes it away from them. We’ve got to keep growing as a team. We’ve got a couple of weeks to get fit and get right.”

Franklin heads to Mt. Vernon (Fortville) on Saturday to compete in the Marauder Classic against East Central and Fishers.