Franklin boys soccer sends statement in win over Jesuit
The 2019 state title run from Franklin High School boys soccer marked a historic moment in the school's history.
Now in 2021, the Lightning are out to prove it wasn't a one-off moment, and a 5-2 victory Wednesday, Sept. 8, at home over preseason No. 1 Jesuit was a solid message to send.
The win puts the Lightning at 2-1 on the season after dropping a match to Sunset 4-3 and taking down Westview 3-0 to start the season.
Here are three takeaways from the Lightning win:
Head coach Jose Milian said his hope for his team is for them to play with confidence, and after falling behind 1-0 to Jesuit within the first five minutes, the confidence didn't seem to be there.
But a goal from Nevin Rueegger in the 21st minute equalized it and got Franklin moving with more control and more confidence.
The Lightning held better control the rest of the match, and sent the game into halftime up 3-1 thanks to a couple breakaway goals from senior speedster Darren Green.
"In terms of confidence, that's the thing that I hope we keep gaining and we keep growing because it really takes everyone," Milian said. "Everyone had a part to this win … A team like Jesuit that carries a very heavy name and they are very good — it took all of us to come in."
Jesuit pulled within one in the second half, but Franklin kept is confidence boosted despite the setback and continued to pepper the Crusaders with fast-break shots.
In the 68th minute, Green was tackled right outside the box on another breakaway attempt and eventually knocked in a third goal on the ensuing free kick.
Sam Haynes tacked on a fifth goal to get the final 5-2 score and sent the Lightning home riding a high Milian hopes will continue the rest of the way.
"It takes a lot of confidence but we pulled through, 5-2, that's not easy, especially hearing about Jesuit all the time and how they're always good and they go to state all the time," Bucardo said. "Now that we beat them, it reassures us that we are definitely better than most teams and that we can get there if we keep doing what we're doing."
A brick wall
While the hat trick from Green is what appeared on the scoreboard, the lack of goals on the Jesuit side came thanks in part to Lightning goalie Emilio Bucardo.
In the first half, the senior made multiple difficult saves, including one that started with a deflection in the upper left corner of the box and then having to sprint back to the goal to stop a lobbed shot from the Crusaders.
"That's a brick wall back there," Green said on Bucardo's night. "When it's time to put that work in, Emilio always gets it done."
Bucardo finished with eight saves Wednesday night as the Crusaders sent 13 shots at him.
Having the speed in Green on offense combined with Bucardo in goal showed just how talented the Franklin squad is in two players alone.
And the scary part is, Milian believes Bucardo is only scratching the surface of what he can accomplish this season.
"Emilio is another one, believe it or not, that I think hasn't grown into the player he can be yet," Milian said. "When a goalie has a night like he had, it makes our team that tends to be very aggressive … it makes our jobs a little easier to try and find a goal."
Title run sequel?
It's early in the season, but a win over powerhouse Jesuit is always a good sign for a team looking at a state title as its goal.
Many of the faces from the 2019 team aren't around anymore, but the seniors and juniors now still remember what it took for that team to reach the peak.
And in Green's eyes, there are many similarities.
"The biggest thing I think is it's like a family and the work ethic is really high," Green said, "In training we try to develop that and we do whatever we can to make sure this is family-oriented and we do whatever we can to get the win.
Milian wants to see the confidence stay high and have some quicker starts to avoid falling in early holes — but being able to climb out of one is a solid sign.
And if the ball keeps rolling in the right direction, Milian knows what his team can accomplish.
"This team is definitely hungry, but I think they are hungry to find their identity first and foremost," Milian said. "Once we figure out that identity, I think the possibilities can be endless, to be honest."
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