Occasionally, a plan falls into place exactly as desired.
Franklin Academy entered the offseason with the belief that their boys soccer team had the potential to become state champions.
A group of contributors from the previous year’s team were brought back. They challenged themselves by competing against top 4A teams in the Wake County Cup multiple times.
The strategy proved successful, resulting in a formidable team that dominated the 2A division.
On Saturday, Franklin Academy claimed victory in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A boys soccer championship by defeating Community School of Davidson 5-0 at MacPherson Stadium in Browns Summit.
Franklin Academy (20-4-3) ended the postseason having outscored its six opponents 38-2. The Patriots now have three state titles in five trips to the finals, winning the 2015 and 2019 1A titles with runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2020.
Coach Austin Latta of Franklin Academy praised his team for consistently achieving high scores and defeating strong opponents, including the West regional champions. He credited their success to the dedication and skill of his players.
In the game against CSD (22-3-1), the Patriots were ahead 3-0 at halftime and maintained their lead for the majority of the game except for the first 90 seconds.
During the second minute, Logan Hawley sprinted towards the back post and gently redirected a bouncing cross from Nick Fitzgerald into the goal. Fitzgerald also scored a goal of his own in the 20th minute by maneuvering past the goalkeeper and scoring into the open net.
Fitzgerald concluded the game with two scores and one assist, earning the title of Most Valuable Player.
“It was the perfect ending. My freshman year, we lost in the state championship. Ever since then I’ve just wanted this so bad,” Fitzgerald said. “The whole season, we’ve been working towards this and we got it.”
In the 25th minute of the game, Chase Cabrera made a pass that reached Holt Lane in the penalty area. Lane then successfully scored, giving their team a 3-0 lead.
Despite the Spartans having more opportunities in the latter half, Franklin Academy was able to regain their superior performance.
In the 70th minute, the Patriots scored a second goal courtesy of Fitzgerald, who once again slipped past the goalkeeper. Then, in the 75th minute, freshman Chase Liner capitalized on a rebound to extend the lead to 5-0.
Hawley stated that “We are all siblings.” This year, we were clear on our goals and worked together as a team to achieve them.
Last year’s 2A champion Owen was defeated by CSD in the West regional final. CSD had a score of 21-2 against other teams before the championship match.
This was the initial instance in which a charter school had advanced to the finals of the 2A boys’ soccer tournament, let alone two charter schools competing against each other.
CSD has been a runner-up three times but has yet to win a title. They lost in the 1A final in 2018 and 2015 (the latter of which was also against Franklin Academy).
CSD coach Lee Ennis acknowledges the hard work put in throughout the season in hopes of reaching this point. However, despite giving their best effort, the team faced numerous challenges and did not have the desired start which can be difficult to overcome.
Prior to the competition, a single player from each team received sportsmanship honors from the NCHSAA. Charles Bloom was chosen for CSD, while Quinn Fotheringham was selected for Franklin Academy.