No one could blame Franklin’s girls for taking a victory lap, not after winning its first Section Four girls championship of any kind last Saturday.
“The kids in school and the girls are enjoying this,” 33rd-year Franklin girls soccer coach J.J. Laing said of his squad, which advanced to the Class D state quarterfinals by winning a penalty-kick shootout, 3-2, against Morris last Saturday at the Wright National Soccer Campus.
The teams played to a 1-all tie through regulation and four overtimes to share the Class D sectional crown, but the Purple Devils advanced to the state tournament for the first time via the shootout.
With basketball season just around the corner, the workload has more or less doubled for several Franklin players.
“They have basketball and soccer practice on the same day, but they haven’t complained too much,” Laing said. “I’ve received from a lot of people congratulations to pass along to the kids. We’re kind of enjoying this. The school is feeling good about it, too.”
There is more work to be done, though.
The Purple Devils (15-2-1) will play Section Three champion Poland (19-1) in a state quarterfinal at 3 p.m. Saturday at Fulton High.
And these Tornadoes are quite the offensive bunch. Their leading scorer, Mikayla Blumenstock, has 32 goals this season. Fellow forward Tara Siegle has scored 20 more. Those two combined to score all of Poland’s goals in 5-3 victory over Cincinnatus in the Section Three final.
Laing said he hasn’t seen Poland — its loss this season came against two-time defending Section Three Class D champion Remsen — but he’s been doing some Internet surfing and even called a coach for some insight.
“We’ve been working on cleaning up some mistakes we’ve been making,” Laing said. “We haven’t been making anything real fatal, but we have to be aware of those two. Between my four backs, we have to very aware of picking them up. Their midfielders try to get it to them. Then they turn and take on defenders 1-on-1. Having 50-some goals between two forwards is tough to deal with.”