In the season opener last month, Raleigh Charter and Franklin Academy finished in a draw. Since that match, the two schools have headed in different directions, with Raleigh Charter winning two matches and Franklin Academy dropping two since.
The Phoenix were without senior Grace Nipp in the opener, but she returned for Wednesday's match, quickly making her presence felt with a goal just six minutes in to earn Raleigh Charter a 1-0 victory at WakeMed Soccer Park.
"I just wanted to score as quickly as possible to put that team on their heels," Nipp said of the lone goal. "That's pretty important. ... I really wanted to come to this game and make a difference and an impact for my team. I want to be at all the games, so the first one was tough."
The senior missed the opener due to prior obligations with student government, but would not be denied in her last chance against Franklin Academy. She went down late in the match with a cramp in her left leg, but would walk off the pitch under her own power.
On a breakaway from a Franklin Academy defender, Nipp drilled a shot that put the Phoenix ahead for good on the afternoon. Nearly every offensive possession from that point on went through the experienced player, including a late penalty kick that nearly put Raleigh Charter ahead by two goals.
"The first game was strange for both teams and the beginning of our season was rough," Raleigh Charter coach Steven Grosso said. "We didn't have much time to prepare due to weather and we were missing one of our captains [Nipp]. We really saw what we're capable of today.
"We've had stellar individual players over the years. This season we have a collection of outstanding team players that are leading the way."
Both teams traded possession throughout the match, with Franklin Academy's defense swarming to nearly every Raleigh Charter ball. But the Patriots' attack was unable to find holes in the Phoenix defense, leading to a quiet end to the first half.
Raleigh Charter peppered Amelia Huffman in the first 15 minutes, but the Franklin Academy goalkeeper kept her team in the game. Not to be outdone, Lily Koning followed her lead on the other end, making multiple diving saves in the second half. Koning finished with seven saves in the shutout victory.
"[Koning] is solid. What else can I say about her at this point?" Grosso said with a smile. "She's been a starter for us for three years and she's shown great progression. She had to make a lot of saves today and didn't concede any rebounds.
"To have that kind of glue in your hands really allows the defense to get more involved in the attack. She inspires confidence in this team when she's on her game."
Raleigh Charter moves to 3-0-1 on the season with the win before going on the road for four of the next six matchups. Avenging the lone draw of the season should serve as a confidence boost for a team that has dominated the conference in recent years.
On the other side, Franklin Academy is still searching for its second win with a 1-3-1 record.