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Franklin Regional boys soccer advances with overtime win

| Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
Ringgold's Nick Cichon gets past Franklin Regional's #13 Tyler Schott and #2 Michael Shulock at the Ringgold Joe Montana Stadium. Jim Ference | Valley Independent
Franklin Regional's keeper #39 Chris Ralph misses the ball as Ringgold scores in the 1st half at Ringgold Stadium. Jim Ference | Valley Independent

Having lost its section title on the final day of the regular season, Franklin Regional probably felt it was a bit underseeded with the 12th seed.

After Monday, Ringgold might agree.

The Panthers twice tied the game with goals by Ryan Watson and James Young before Danny Ferriero touched home a Blake Buccille cross in the 96th minute to give Franklin Regional a 3-2 win on the road over the No. 5 Rams in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

With the win, Franklin Regional (13-3-2) advances to face No. 13 Canon-McMillan (15-4-0), which also was an upset winner by defeating Central Catholic, 1-0. That quarterfinal match is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at North Allegheny High School.

Early in the match, Ringgold (14-4-0)established itself as a physical opponent, and in the 28th minute, the Rams took the lead with a long-range goal off the foot of Troy Dolanch.

The lead lasted less than a minute, as Watson cashed in on a move down the left side with a looping shot.

“We withstood their challenge early,” Franklin Regional coach Ryan Montgomery said. “Ringgold's guys were very physical and very determined to win. When they scored first, we were a bit shell-shocked.”

Ringgold again took the lead in the second half on a goal by Hunter Homa, but the Panthers had an answer when Young hit a blast from 25 yards that found the net.

The teams played the remaining 28 minutes of regulation and the 15-minute first half of overtime without a goal, but less than a minute into the second half, Franklin Regional booked its quarterfinal place.

Young had a chance to score his second goal of the game after some build up, but his effort rang off the post. Buccille was there to chase down the rebound, and he served the ball back across to Ferriero for the winning finish.

In the end, the Panthers moved on with goals from a sophomore (Watson), a freshman (Young) and another sophomore (Ferriero), who was assisted by a junior (Buccille).

That FR's younger players were able to respond under pressure bodes well for the program's future, which begins with the immediate future against Canon-Mac.

“What you hope for is that these guys that don't have much playoff experience continue to step up,” Montgomery said.

“We were a little nervous, but we didn't get in over our heads early. It's a testament to how talented these players are.”

The challenge still will be great against Canon-Mac, whose four losses this year came in their section against Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.

“We have to buckle down,” Montgomery said. “They came from a section with the top two (seeds), so they can play at a high level.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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