In a hard-fought battle that was scoreless through two overtime periods, the Ravenwood Lady Raptors soccer team (13-4-1) connected on four of five penalty kick goals to secure back-to-back Class AAA state titles over the Franklin Lady Admirals (11-2-2) 4-2 Monday afternoon at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro.
“It means everything to me and these girls,” said Ravenwood head coach Jessica Mancini. “We have eight seniors that pushed us here, and a lot of them were on the program that took us to state last year as well. They (the seniors) are more deserving than any other group.”
“Going in playing Franklin, we knew it was going to be tight...From the beginning, we thought this was going to be a one-goal game. Anytime we play a team from Williamson County, it is always going to be a gritty game.”
“It was a tough loss, but I thought our girls battled well,” said Franklin head coach Mike Burgoyne. “They did extremely well to get to this point of the season. We had some ups and downs just like every team did, but they persevered. It is unfortunate that it went to penalties, but it was a good game; our girls held their heads up high."
In the first 40 minutes of the match, neither side had many chances to score. Goalies Franklin junior Matty Taylor and Ravenwood freshman Lexie Grundler preserved the clean sheet in this beginning frame.
The second frame saw both Ravenwood and Franklin with scoring attempts, including Ravenwood having an open header with eight minutes remaining in the game. Franklin had a free kick shot by Emma Shields, which missed wide left of the goalkeeper to stay tied at 0-0.
The back-and-forth struggle continued in the two ten-minute overtimes. Opportunities to score in overtime were a shot by Franklin senior Brenna Swiger that missed just wide of the right post and a shot in the second overtime by Franklin sophomore Avery Brown that just went wide of the left post.
The match went to penalty kicks with goals on four of the five kicks by Ravenwood seniors Anna Major, Nora Henderson, Maddie Gleason and Josie Ricketts.
“These seniors mean everything to our program,” said Coach Mancini. “This group of girls are fantastic mentors. They are showing the younger girls what it is to be proud of your team, proud of who you are and be confident in each other.”
Franklin’s goals were scored by sophomore Avery Brown and junior Jessica Desantis, totaling two out of the five penalty kicks for the Lady Admirals as sophomore Ravenwood keeper Kendall Curran made three saves to preserve the win 4-2.
“I talked to Kendall and said, if any of these games go to PK’s, she is my go-to keeper,” stated Coach Mancini. “She has nerves of steel and works hard for each and every ball.”
“Avery had a solid shot, so did Jessica, placing the shot perfectly,” said Coach Burgoyne. “We had confidence in all of our penalty kick shooters. They (Ravenwood) changed the keeper for the penalties, and she played well.”
Franklin has a bright future, as they will return every player from this team, except for six seniors.
“They have meant a lot,” said Coach Burgoyne. “Last spring I lost 13 senior boys and they were not able to compete due to the COVID shutdown. With these six seniors, we were afraid that was going to happen as well. Our message to the seniors was: let’s just be happy every practice we get and every game we get to play. The six seniors have been great leaders on and off the field to their teammates.”
“We had a couple of girls that got injured in the offseason due to club play that will be back...We have a lot of returning players with our junior varsity and varsity group. This group should be extremely strong again, possibly for the next four to five years.”
Ravenwood will look to reload as they know each team in their division is capable of strong challenges.
“Every year there is a target on every Williamson County School,” said Coach Mancini. “Our district is highly competitive. Last year Brentwood and Ravenwood made the state final. This year it was Ravenwood and Franklin.
"No matter which Williamson County school makes it through, we are going to compete for the state title. I don’t think it puts a target on our back; it just pushes us to try to get back here every single year.”