The Stoughton High girls' soccer team began its season last Friday with a solid over Hockomock League Davenport Division rival Foxboro.
After a sluggish first half, Stoughton scored three unanswered second half goals to comeback and defeat the Warriors, 3-1, and thrill a large contingent of supporters.
On Tuesday afternoon, in the second game of the season, also at home, Stoughton looked to keep up the momentum going, but it would have to be at the expense of a very talented Franklin team, a perennial postseason contender.
Like in their first game, the Black Knights got off to a slow start against Franklin, but this time it would cost them.
Franklin scored five unanswered goals before halftime, and despite a much-improved second half performance by Stoughton, Franklin held on for the decisive 5-0 victory.
The only bright spot for the home team is that Stoughton did display a ‘no quit’ attitude throughout the game.
“Franklin is a good team, but we still need to pressure the opponent more and not give them so much time with the ball and to make decisions,” said coach Gary Muello.
“We knew we had a lot of work to do even after the opening win and it is a long work in process. We have to continue to practice and work hard and stay upbeat. It’s a long season with many more games to play.”
With the loss Stoughton is now 1-1 on the young season.
Stoughton is in the middle of a grueling stretch of four games in five days. On Wednesday, the Black Knights play at North Attleboro, Friday, at home against a very strong Oliver Ames squad and Saturday at non-league rival Taunton.
Stoughton had to play without injured junior Megan Crimmins, but the team still got a lot of solid individual efforts. Rachel Berkowsky, a sophomore goaltender had to play 30 balls, 19 that were shots on net, making 14 saves. Meanwhile, Stoughton could only muster three shots on net the entire contest.
Senior captain and defender Alicia Macomber had a solid effort. Mikayla Williams, another senior captain, who had a goal and an assist in the season-opener, was double-teamed most of the game, but still helped to lead the offense.
A group of sophomores and freshmen got some playing time and all were very impressive in the second half.
Franklin opened the scoring only four minutes into the game on a goal by junior Kristi Kirshe, with assists from freshman Taylor Cogliano and senior co-captain Maddie Brown. Nine minutes later, Brown scored on a chip shot that sailed over a leaping Berkowsky, just under the crossbar.
The Panthers put the game out of reach with three goals in the final six minutes of the first half, on defensive miscues by Stoughton.
Kirshe scored two identical goals on corner kick passes by senior co-captain Jen Coppola, 90 seconds apart, to complete a first half hat trick.
The final goal was even more of a heartbreaker, coming with only ten seconds left before halftime. Cogliano scored an unassisted goal, after collecting two rebounds and converting a third shot by a defenseless Berkowsky.
The second half was scoreless and very defensive-orientated, with Franklin outshooting Stoughton, 4-1, and Berkowsky making three more great saves.
“We’re off to a good start (3-0) and we’re scoring a lot of goals (14), but we lost four seniors from last season’s team and they were all defenders, so we’re really concentrating on goals against (only two in three games) and we’ve done a good job so far,” said long-time Franklin coach Tom Geysen.
“We have six freshmen and ten first year varsity players, so we still have a lot to learn.”
Stoughton looks to get back on the winning side at North Attleboro, as the young Black Knights will be tested in their first road contest of the season.
“I’m optimistic that we can continue our good play from the second half of this game into our next game,” said Muello.
“We have a good group and with me being a new coach, we’re still in transition and getting to know each other and what we expect of one another. We’re improving each time out and the effort has always been there.”