When the Franklin boys soccer team found out it would be hosting a sectional this season, it didn’t anticipate being relegated to spectator status for the championship game.
Roncalli, though, had other ideas and held on for a 2-1 upset victory against the Grizzly Cubs in Wednesday’s second semifinal match.
The Rebels (8-9-1) will play Perry Meridian for the title Saturday. Franklin ends its season with a 13-4-1 record.
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“Unfortunately, when you play in the sectional, you can get beat by teams like this,” Franklin coach Tony Harris said. “Not to get it done and have it here hurts a little bit.”
Early on, the Grizzly Cubs appeared to be in good shape. Senior Joe Nerding found the back of the net just 76 seconds into the match, collecting a long throw-in from Garrett Snyder and knocking it past Daniel Woodruff.
Roncalli didn’t buckle, though, and with 25:59 left in the opening half Mateo Gonzalez punched in the tying goal. After another 10 minutes of back-and-forth action, the Rebels struck again with 15:06 on the clock when Robert Thang converted a direct kick from about 25 yards out on the right side.
“We’ve struggled with giving up early goals, so we’re used to trying to fight back into games,” Roncalli coach Joe Schonegg said. “It’s not the way you want to start a game, but I’m proud of my boys for fighting back. They had a lot of heart tonight, and I think that’s what won us the game.”
The Grizzly Cubs had plenty of chances throughout the second half — right down to a free kick with four seconds remaining — but couldn’t net the equalizer.
“We always have the belief as a team that we know we can score,” Nerding said, “and unfortunately, we couldn’t tonight.”
The Grizzly Cubs lose six seniors, including such key pieces as Nerding and defenders Robert Velasquez and E.J. Young. Harris is confident that his team still will be solid next year, but there was certainly a sense of lost opportunity after Wednesday’s defeat.
“We’re not going away anytime soon,” Harris said, “but it kind of felt like this was one of them that might be our year.”