by Chris Lee
Cookeville sent up a prayer, and it ended Franklin’s season.
The Cavaliers’ Bralen Clouse scored a goal on a free kick early in the first half for the game’s only goal, as Cookeville eliminated Franklin from the TSSAA Class AAA Boys’ State soccer tournament in a quarterfinal game on Tuesday evening at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro.
Shooting from approximately midfield, Clouse lofted one over the head of Franklin goalie Benjamin Menko at 7:47 of the first half. It was one of only four shots—three on goal—by the Cavaliers all evening.
Afterwards, the Rebels still seemed to be in shock over what happened.
“The goalkeeper mis-judged it,” Franklin coach Mike Burgoyne said. “Ninety-nine times out of 100 times, it doesn’t go in. There was no (wind), nothing. I think the sun came into factor.
“A fluke goal, but we had plenty of time to come back from it. The thing it gave them was a one-goal lead, and they were allowed to sit in then, which was difficult, because they had a lot of players behind the ball, and that frustrated us a bit.”
“It was just lofted into the box,” he added later. “Nothing special.”
Franklin goalie Ben Menko didn’t have a complicated explanation for what happened, but the preponderance of Cookeville players inside the box may have provided just enough of a distraction in the Cavaliers’ only goal.
“I just kind of got caught up in the traffic, I guess” the 6-foot-1 Menko, a freshman, said. “It went over me.”
Franklin had the edge in speed and athleticism, but that goal set the tone for the game. The Cavaliers spent the rest of the evening crowding the middle of the field, and the Rebels, who were credited with just six shots, and just two on goal, just couldn’t find open space.
“We were able to hold the ball a lot and do what we wanted to do, but just weren’t able to generate chances. That’s on (Cookeville). They did a good job clogging it up.”
Despite the ending, Burgoyne stressed how pleased he was with Menko’s season.
“I’ve been here five years… I’ve never had a freshman goalkeeper. Some of his best talents are shot-stopping, and you didn’t get to see that tonight, because they didn’t put shots on goal, so he wasn’t challenged much. But yeah, he’s done really well for us.”
It was the last game for senior starters Jake Tropauer, Jacob Day, Joseph Malloy, Addison Norris, Hudson White and John Sintic, players who formed the core of the Franklin defense. Burgoyne lamented how it ended for those six.
“We had a great group of seniors who could have challenged Farragut and Houston this year, and could have done well.”
Franklin’s season ended at 11-5-1. Next year, the Rebels will return promising freshman forward Logan Brady, whom Burgoyne thought had Franklin’s best shot of the night.
The first half, in the first few minutes, Logan Brady had a really good chance, but kind of mis-touched it, and the goalkeeper made a save,” Burgoyne said. “That was probably our best chance to score.”