FRANKLIN, Mass. – Star forward Kristi Kirshe scored a first half hat trick as the Franklin Panthers stayed unbeaten with a dominating 6-1 victory over the visiting Oliver Ames Tigers on Friday afternoon at Pisini Field.
Kirshe scored twice within a minute to put Franklin out in front. First, she took a feed from sophomore Taylor Cogliano and turned quickly onto her left foot to fire home. Then shortly after the restart, Kirshe found room again in the box and slid home her second with her left foot. Kirshe rounded out her hat trick with a deft finish at the near post after rolling her defender.
Franklin coach Tom Geysen praised the senior for her performances in big games, “Every time we play a good team, she is phenomenal. The Canton game she had four goals and an assist. The Mansfield game we won 2-1 and she had both goals. She steps up big against the best competition.”
The Panthers also got goals from two freshmen as they built a 5-0 halftime lead. Alexis Stowell slotted home a shot after a perfectly weighted chip from junior Gabbie Klane put her behind the defense. Stowell played provider just two minutes later when she fed Bailey Knous to go one on one with the Oliver Ames keeper.
“We’re young…for them to be able to do what they do is a credit to them, but also to Kristi, Grace and the captains,” said Geysen. “It’s unbelievable the job that they do with these kids. We don’t have exceptional soccer players, but we have a group of kids that play well together.”
Tigers coach Britt Sellmayer was disappointed by his team’s performance and hopes that his young squad can learn from the defeat, “The midfield has to keep up and give the defense some cover. We had a hard time getting to the goal line; it wasn’t a very good game for us. We’re very limited in our experience this season…but some of the other kids are going to have to step and learn to play.”
The Tigers were limited to shots from well outside the box and there best chance to get on the board in the first half came from a Kate Holleran shot that slid wide of the post. The Franklin defense, with Kane as the sweeper and senior captains Grace Conley and Stephanie Pisani just in front of her, dominated the OA attack. Oliver Ames star midfielder Kendall Andrew struggled to find space to create.
The teams traded penalties in a second half that featured a lot of subs and a lot of physical play. Leah Benson made it 6-0 with a penalty just two minutes into the second half and Erin DeCoste gave the traveling contingent of OA fans something to cheer about with her goal from the spot with a little over seven minutes remaining.
Kirshe’s hat trick raises her incredible goal tally to 19 on the season, but the senior was just happy to be able to say that the Panthers had beaten OA for the first time in nearly four years, “We haven’t beat them since my freshman year and it’s been a long rivalry…we were ready to play this game. We had it marked on the calendar. After playing Canton, we knew we were a good team, we knew we had to come out strong, and that’s just what we did.”
On Wednesday, Franklin (9-0) will put its perfect record on the line at league newcomers Milford. Oliver Ames (9-2-1) also plays on Wednesday at Foxboro.