Franklin girls soccer coach Michael Pierson found that his initial game plan for Wednesday’s home match against Greenwood wasn’t working so well.
Some adjustments at the midway point paid big dividends.
Senior Mollie Hill scored three second-half goals to help the Grizzly Cubs overcome an early deficit and pick up a 4-1 victory over Greenwood in what was the season opener for both teams.
“We started something at the beginning, and it just didn’t work out in our favor,” Pierson said. “So we really just switched it up, tried to put as much pressure as we could up front with the two strikers, but it actually solidified the back with four in the back instead of three.”
The game was tied 1-1 at halftime and remained deadlocked until midway through the 52nd minute, when Hill ran onto a loose ball that had taken a friendly Grizzly Cub bounce into the box. Greenwood goalkeeper Bre Wheatley, who finished her high school debut with 18 saves, had no chance to offer any resistance on the shot.
Hill then added an insurance tally off a well-placed cross from Erica Buening with 13:35 left on the clock, and another on an unassisted score in the final seconds.
Pierson believes Buening and Hill will provide the Grizzly Cubs with a dynamic 1-2 punch all season long.
“Erica’s leg is amazing,” the coach said. “She can pretty much put it where she wants and she’s got the power to do it, and then with Mollie’s ability to finish, they’re a deadly combo up top.”
Play was fairly balanced early on, with each side making the occasional foray into the attacking third of the field, before the Woodmen broke the ice just over 15 minutes into the match. Junior Emily Metzger sent a perfect through ball into the box, setting Kendyl Farmer up with a point-blank opportunity against Franklin keeper Addie Marshall. The freshman cashed in for a 1-0 Greenwood lead.
The visitors had a chance to double their advantage in the 23rd minute, but Metzger’s hard shot off a corner kick was turned away by a diving Marshall.
Franklin then tied it up with 10:11 to go in the half when Buening took in a long pass from Hill and drove a low left-to-right shot past Wheatley, who wound up facing far more pressure in the second half.
“When Kendyl scored that first goal, that was a big weight off our shoulders,” Greenwood coach Joe Mushrush said. “We felt really good about it, and at halftime we had a great talk about how we’re going to come out with energy — and I think they just wore us down. That was the trick in the end.”
Marshall totaled six saves at the other end for the Grizzly Cubs, who have high hopes for putting together their first winning season since 2015.
“It’s a great win,” Hill said. “It does definitely give us a confidence boost. Obviously, we have a great team this year, and we’re going to do great things.”