Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Franklin Regional Winning with Style

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Franklin Regional Winning with Style

Article excerpt

The Franklin Regional boys' soccer team is playing "the beautiful game."

Take last week's game at Kiski Area, for example.

Ryan Watson had gone to the corner for the Panthers in the 15th minute. He kicked a perfect curl across the 6-yard box. Before anyone could react, Jake Roberge headed the ball into the net. The goal put Franklin up, 1-0, on Kiski's own Davis Field.

"As a coach, you could not have instructed better," recalled Panthers coach Ryan Montgomery. "[Roberge] is a very special player."

Roberge, a sophomore, can play multiple positions but usually takes the center midfield for Franklin (7-0-2, 6-0-1).

Early in the second half of the game at Kiski, a scrum erupted in front of Panthers sophomore goalkeeper Chris Ralph. With Ralph's view to the ball blocked, Kiski Area tied the score. But Ralph was a critical reason that the game didn't end in a Kiski Area win.

"Our goalkeeper has been excellent," said Montgomery. "He's made key saves to keep us in games, especially early on when maybe we've struggled a bit.

"I can't even begin to guess how many saves he's had.".

Ralph has recorded four shutouts.

As the Panthers took on Hempfield Area last Wednesday, midfielder Brent Velasquez saw forward James Young with an opportunity. It was a long shot, but Velasquez gunned the ball to Young at the 40 yard line. Young shot the ball and scored a goal in the 20th minute.

Young's goal turned out to be a game-winner, because the Panthers' defense held solidly.

"[Center defensive back] Nick Bolkovac has been an absolute rock in the back for us," Montgomery said.

Franklin's plays may look like a highlight reel, but Montgomery explained that there's a lot that goes into such successful execution.

"In general, I think we're very organized," Montgomery said. "We definitely meet the challenges of our opponent and find a way to counter those challenges to win games."

This season, the Panthers' roster is an interesting mix of classes. The seniors remember their last playoff appearance, a quarterfinal loss to Moon in the 2010 season.

"Our back line is composed of all seniors," said Montgomery. …

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