If Franklin Academy’s Ben Voorhis drifts into a daydream from time to time, he can be excused. The junior goalie plays for a team that has six nine-goal games and 15 wins by at least three goals.
But the junior was on edge all 80 minutes for the Patriots to survive with a 2-1 win over Warsaw James Kenan Saturday afternoon in a N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A East Regional semifinal match at Franklin’s field.
He was especially on his toes in the final minutes, diving to his right to block a hard shot with 5:41 remaining. Otherwise, the match might have been decided in overtime.
“I just had to dive for it,” Voorhis said. “But I can’t take all the credit. My back four has been incredible all season.”
The top-seeded Patriots, ranked No. 14 among area schools, improved to 20-1-2. Fifth-seeded James Kenan finished 16-6. Franklin will host defending 1A champion and No. 2 Wallace-Rose Hill on Tuesday.
The back four Voorhis referred to are sophomore Christian Fitzgerald, senior Chase Moseley, senior Jacob Faulkner and junior Cody Holtman. The offensive juggernaut Patriots, led by 50-goal scorer Nick Hughes, needed their defense to reach the regional final.
The Wake Forest charter school was clinging to a 2-1 lead throughout the second half while Kenan forced the action. The ball was largely in Franklin’s end of the field between the 30- and 15-minute marks.
The defenders helped Voorhis get through the onslaught, as the Tigers were forced to rush shots. One opportunity was wide right, another wide left, another hit the crossbar. A fourth was a rocket directly at Voorhis, which he cleanly caught without the possibility of a rebound.
Franklin took a 1-0 lead when Hughes converted a penalty kick in the first 10 minutes. He scored his second goal for his 50th of the year and a 2-0 lead from close range on the left side with 6:29 left in the first half.
Kenan scored its lone goal with 4:54 left in the first half on a corner kick assist from Edgar Benetiz that Israel Hernandez on converted for a goal on a header.
“I thought we played decent, but we missed some shots that in the past we wouldn’t have missed,” Kenan coach Mitchell Quinn said. “(Franklin) is a very good team. They handle the ball, they’re fast and they’re big.”
Whichever team advances on Tuesday will play the west champion for the state title on Saturday at N.C. State.