Franklin Regional boys soccer team's season ends with loss to Fox Chapel
The Franklin Regional boys soccer team's 2013 season came to an end with a 1-0 loss Monday night to Fox Chapel in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
In that game, however, coach Ryan Montgomery caught a glimpse of the 2014 season and beyond — and he liked what he saw.
“When you start five sophomores in a first-round playoff game, you know you have a bright future,” Montgomery said. “These guys did a nice job this year. We'll get them trained up, they'll grow physically, mature, and hopefully we'll have a bright future on our hands.”
The Panthers (9-7-1) played No. 3 seed Fox Chapel to a scoreless tie through the first half of Monday night's game. The Foxes (16-1) got on the board in the 15th minute of the second half, when Cole Ryan beat Franklin Regional Chris Ralph.
That goal would be the only one Fox Chapel needed, as Jacob Henry finished off the shutout.
“They competed well,” Montgomery said. “They played hard. All year, we've had a young group, so we're optimistic about our future for sure. We were pleasantly surprised to make playoffs. When we suit up and go against the No. 3 seed, it's a tough draw.”
Montgomery said the Panthers struggled to build an attack against Fox Chapel. The team managed four shots against Henry, while Ralph stopped 15 Fox Chapel attacks.
“I think (Fox Chapel) had the better of the play, but we had our chances,” Montgomery said. “We definitely did a stout job defensively. Chris Ralph was amazing in goal. It was just a little too much for us to overcome their speed and athleticism.”
Montgomery said he considered the season a success because of the run to the playoffs, which marked the program's second straight postseason appearance.
“Hopefully, this just becomes the standard for us now,” he said. “Every year playoffs is not just a dream but a reality.”
While a strong group of underclassmen will return, highlighted by the sophomore and junior classes, Montgomery said the team would miss its seniors: Jason Bauer, Nate Baron, Blake Buccille, Jon Cavalier, Randy Duke Steven Roote and Carmen Rosporski.
“This is a group that three out of four years, they were in the playoffs,” So they know what it takes to get there, and they know what it takes in that environment to play with that kind of confidence. So it's going to be tough to replace those guys with their experience.
“The young guys, on the side of that, they have that experience now. They know how to play in that pressure-packed environment. Hopefully, this is a good building block for them.”