By Chris Lee
In a night filled with scoring opportunities, Ravenwood midfielder Blake Sams was the only one who could cash in on Thursday night.
Sams scored the game’s only goal, leading the Raptors’ to a 1-0 victory over Franklin in the District 11 Boys’ Soccer Tournament final at Chris Kingborough Field on the Brentwood High Campus.
Sams scored from close range with just 11:52 off the clock in the first half, and Ravenwood goalkeeper Jack Hyatt and the Ravens dodged a few bullets the rest of the night to preserve the shutout.
The goal was set up by a throw-in, and a battle ensured in front of the goal for several seconds, until the ball squirted out to the right, where Sams, the district’s Player of the Year, stood. He soon got a good look and punched it through with a right foot past Franklin goalkeeper Benjamin Menko.
“It was just flicking around in the box, and I was just running with it,” Sams, who’ll play soccer at North Florida next year, said. “It kept bouncing up on my leg and on my chest and stuff, and I had a man on my back, but we were just running together and somehow, it just landed in front of my foot.”
Coaches Jose Lodono (Ravenwood) and Mike Burgoyne (Franklin) both alluded to their teams being fatigued, which, between the 80-something degree heat and humidity as well as each being drained by tournament play, was understandable.
“These games are going to be really tight… sometimes, it comes down to something that might not be pretty, or someone’s mistake,” Londono said. “We know that playing Franklin, being at this stage. Tiny little mistakes—sometimes, you do win that way.
“It wasn’t a beautiful goal or anything, but it counts and sends us to the next stage.”
Ravenwood seemed to have more energy early, and controlled possession in Franklin’s end for a good part of the first 20 minutes.
That led to the Sams goal, but Franklin soon used its speed to generate a bunch of good first-half scoring chances.
Moments before the goal, the Rebels’ defense cleared the ball from inside its 18, and quickly found open field without much resistance. Seconds later, Franklin forward Logan Brady had an excellent one-on-one opportunity along the right side, got a good look, and slipped one by Hyatt, but the ball was just inches to the right side of the post.
Franklin midfielder Christopher Miller-Hill had an even better look moments after the Sams goal, but also pushed it right.
Brady was denied another good look around the 20-minute mark of the first half when Hyatt made an aggressive move to secure a save just before Brady was able to square his body and shoot.
With under three minutes left, an uncontested Sherrill missed Franklin’s best look yet, booting one right into Hyatt’s stomach from about 15 yards away.
“Logan and Grayson, they both had really good chances to score. I have confidence that they’ll hit those 80, 90 percent of the time,” Burgoyne said.
“We did some high pressure in the beginning, so they had to play along,” Sams said. “Once or twice, they had someone slip through, and that’s always nerve-wracking to see them slip through our defense, but it doesn’t happen that much.”
Ravenwood missed a chance at the 34-minute mark of the second half to add to its lead. Wing Jim Roebuck shot from the left side, just outside the 18, and Menko deflected it, but right to Dawson Morgan, who knocked it home. But Morgan was whistled for offsides, negating the goal.
Franklin was on the other end of a 1-0 score against Centennial on Wednesday to get here, but couldn’t duplicate the effort on Thursday.
“We were disappointed,” Burgoyne said. “We had some good chances to finish early in the game, and it didn’t happen, and they got their goal and it changed the dynamic of the game. Our energy was a bit lacking a little bit today. I don’t know if it was fatigue from yesterday’s game and playing in the heat, but we weren’t able to connect passes that we’re normally able to connect—just simple, little things that create opportunities for Ravenwood.”
Post your Playoff pics and Scores on Twitter @Williamsonsrc using the #MeetatSONIC for a chance to win Sonic cards and more!
Post your Playoff pics and Scores on Twitter @RutherfordSRCE .. using the #MeetatSONIC for a chance to win Sonic cards and more!
Will You Be At The Team’s Next Game?
If you’re planning to be at the next game and you can help update the score at the end of each quarter, CLICK HERE.