The Admirals and Bruins met again in the postseason for the 6-AAA region title, with Brentwood hosting the game this time around.
This game was just as intense as the two previous, with a region title on the line this time around. The Admirals got off to a great start after creating many chances in the earlier matchups, but not being able to find the back of the net. Franklin came out with much better finishing and got the victory over the Bruins, 2-1.
“I think the boys built off each game they’ve had against Brentwood,” said Franklin coach Mike Burgoyne. “I think Brentwood outplayed us in the first game. In the second game, I think we played well but just didn’t get the goals we needed. Tonight, I thought it was more of a complete game.
"I thought we came out firing and played really well in the first half. Then Brentwood settled in and created some good opportunities in the second half and we were able to hold on.”
The Admiral defense came out much stronger than the previous games as they locked up Brentwood throughout the first half, not allowing many chances.
“They’re bigger and stronger than us,” said Burgoyne. “They’re better in the air and they really capitalized on that in the first and second game. I just felt that we were more organized defensively tonight.”
Bradley Whelan broke the tie in the 30th minute as he curled the ball into the net from a free kick just outside the 18-yard box.
“I think once we saw that first goal go in, it really lifted the crew and gave them the confidence to know that they can win the game,” said Burgoyne.
After the Admirals struck first, Brentwood made sure they snuffed out any momentum they had before halftime and quickly equalized.
Aidan Parker, who has been the Bruins' hero many times this season, capitalized on their first shot on goal of the game in the 39th minute just before halftime.
With the exciting conclusion to the first half, it would be pretty hard to follow in the second.
However, it started off the same as before with the game level. Both sides came out more focused than on all sides of the ball as the intensity level grew with every passing minute.
Then came a decisive corner in the 64th minute that would have a major impact on the game.
Franklin managed to win the corner kick after a previous shot went wide of the net just minutes earlier. The ball came into the area, bounced around before Whelan struck the ball.
After getting deflected, the ball rolled into the Brentwood goal to break the tie and ultimately win the game for the Admirals.
“We’ve tweaked what we’ve done slightly each game,” said Burgoyne. “The great thing about playing a team multiple times is that you get to know some of their strengths and weaknesses, and vice versa. We really felt that we were doing some great things, but just got unlucky with our finishing.”
The Bruins and Admirals have yet another opportunity to play each other this postseason as both will move onto sectionals.
“We didn’t play to our capabilities, but Franklin had a lot to do with that,” said Brentwood coach Mike Purcell. “Their intensity level was really high and I don’t feel like we matched it.
"Both of the goals were on restarts, so we didn’t really give up anything in the run of play, which is what you’re supposed to do. They had more possession than in our half than we did in theirs, and they controlled the midfield. We just couldn’t get things going.”
They will have to wait for the result of the Smyrna and Station Camp game Thursday, as they will both have to win their first games in order to meet for a fourth time. Franklin will host the loser, while Brentwood will travel to face the winner.
“When you get to this part of the postseason, every team that’s left is good team,” said Burgoyne. “You don’t really hope to play anyone. You just hope that you can host a game. I’m not sure if Station Camp has lost a game. I looked at Smyrna’s record, maybe they’ve lost two or three games but even the losses they’ve had have only been by a goal. We just need to rest and recover and get ready for Saturday.”