This time, Franklin Academy’s boys soccer team wanted a quick start to set the tone against rival Raleigh Charter.
The Patriots wanted to avoid a repeat of their regular-season match last month when they needed to come from behind to force overtime and finish with a victory.
They got what they wanted as Franklin Academy scored after just one minute, 20 seconds en route to a 5-1 win over the Phoenix Wednesday night in their third-round the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A playoff match.
The fast start sparked the top-seeded Patriots led 3-0 at halftime advantage against No. 9 seed Raleigh Charter in a match played before a couple hundred fans atop the bank overlooking the soccer field.
“Last game, I don’t think we were as focused as we were for this one,” Franklin Academy senior Nick Hughes said. “Maybe we underestimated them last time, but this game we were ready.”
Hughes scored the first goal of his hat trick. He and sophomore Zach Hanson were on a breakaway with Hanson recording the assist.
“Zach and I found a way to play each other to get an early goal,” Hughes said. “We passed it and it was a 1-2 for the goal.”
They found themselves with a similar opportunity six minutes later with Hughes again scoring for a 2-0 lead off passes back and forth.
When the third time came around in the 19th minute, Hanson scored off an assist from Hughes.
“I knew Zach had a good shot and let him have it,” said Hughes with a grin.
The 6-foot-4 Hughes’ hat trick goal for a 4-1 lead came with 21 minutes to play. Including the playoff match, he recorded three hat tricks against his school’s North Central Athletic Conference rival. In the two regular-season matches, Hughes had three goals in a 5-1 win and four in 4-3 overtime victory.
Despite the two one-sided wins, Hughes said the Phoenix brought out the best in them.
“We felt they were our toughest competition,” Hughes said. “If it wasn’t four our effort, I think they could have beaten us. I think the matches were 50-50 even despite the (two 5-1) scores.”
Raleigh Charter senior Tyler Foland scored six minutes into the second half to trim Franklin Academy’s lead to 3-1.
“We had a good season and I’m proud of the way my team played,” Raleigh Charter coach Steve Grosso said. “I thought the winner of this match would have a chance to win it all. They spread the ball well with good touch. I thought we had our chances, but we weren’t able to put it in the back of the net.”
Hughes responded to Raleigh Charter’s goal for a 4-1 lead and then Hanson finished off the scoring with 10:18 left in the match.
Hanson also had two assists, Grant Lewis one and Chasae Moseley one.