It is a soccer rivalry that has been played as a regular season game, district championship, region championship, and a 2020 state championship. The series has had almost as many sequels as the Star Wars saga, with the latest going to the Franklin Lady Admirals (4-2-3, 2-0) over the Ravenwood Lady Raptors (5-2-1, 1-1) at home Thursday night 2-1.
“We have had a rivalry with Ravenwood for a long time,” said Franklin sophomore Olivia Simpson. “Our team went against them in the state championship a while ago and we lost, so this game means a lot.”
“Every game with Ravenwood the last few years has been very similar,” said Franklin head coach Mike Burgoyne. “It was back and forth, with both teams having chances and battling. I thought tonight they out-possessed us and at times, they out-played us. Our girls were gritty, defended well, and most importantly, they stayed in the game. We found a way to get a goal in against a very good keeper. Ravenwood is very organized and talented.”
“This matchup is always going to be a tough game,” said Ravenwood head coach Jessica Mancini. “They came out ready to battle. We came out really slow. There are some small things we need to fix here and there.”
“They have a lot of girls that play with the girls on my team,” continued Mancini. “The girls know each other off the field and in club teams, so they know it is going to be a battle every time. Neither team wants to lose. Both sides push every single time.”
Franklin started the scoring early in the tenth minute, set up by a penalty called in the box on Ravenwood. Franklin senior and Samford commit Margaret DeFranco made the penalty shot, giving the Admirals a 1-0 lead.
“It is a good spirit booster, especially with it being our second district win,” said DeFranco. “They have always been our biggest competitor and our hardest game.”
In the 17th minute, Ravenwood junior Kami Lobliner buried a shot in a pile of defenders with a heel kick, which rolled in the left corner of the net to get the equalizer for the Lady Raptors 1-1.
“She was in the right place at the right time,” said Mancini. “She has been posting up all season, looking to put balls in play from there. It happened to work out this game.”
No one broke the tie before halftime as Ravenwood junior goalie and Michigan State commit Lexi Grundler and Franklin senior goalie Anna Riley Meyer stood tall in the net to keep the score at 1-1.
It was a back-and-forth match in the second half until the 79th minute when sophomore Olivia Simpson broke the tie. Blasting it out of reach of two Ravenwood defenders, Simpson executed a perfect shot in front of the net to give the Lady Admirals a 2-1 advantage.
“I think it was a good offensive pressure at that point in time,” said DeFranco. “She was able to knock it in.”
“Olivia is one of our super sophomores,” said Burgoyne. “We told her there was five or six minutes left. Now is the time that we can take some chances and go. She made the absolute most of her chance. The poise to finish; that was great.”
Ravenwood will have the “Battle of the Woods” with Brentwood next Thursday at home.
“I am hoping for us to learn from our mistakes this game,” said Mancini. “We are going to go back and regroup and make sure we learn and grow as a team. Hopefully, next Thursday, the result is a little bit different.”
Franklin will host Centennial in the Battle of Franklin next Thursday.
“If we win or lose to Ravenwood, it is just one game,” said Burgoyne. “It is a part of a longer journey. We are hoping to have a great senior night in our last district game.”