Franklin Academy’s boys’ soccer team huddled for their usual pre-game chants, but they added a new one:
“ONE MORE ONE LAST TIME!”
Yes, indeed. The Patriots won for a lifetime as the Wake Forest charter school defeated Community School of Davidson 3-1 Saturday in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A championship at N.C. State’s Dail Soccer Complex.
Franklin senior Nick Hughes led the East Region champion (22-1-2) with a hat trick past the West Regional champion (22-2-1). Hughes’ state final hat trick gave him 56 goals in 24 games (he missed one) for an average of 2.33. He tallied 42 in the regular season and 14 in six playoff games.
“I have no idea,” Franklin coach John Crosland responded when asked how an athlete scores a hat trick in state final. “You go ask him. He’s a special talent.”
Hughes’ only explanation was to take advantage of opportunities – even an easy one seven minutes into the match.
The 6-foot-4 senior contested the Spartans’ goalie and a defender for ball that popped up from the traffic and took a slow hop toward the goal. Hughes was the only able to step out of the tangled bodies. He tapped the ball into the net as easily as a golfer a putt left on the cup’s lip.
CSD rallied for a 1-1 tie with 9:28 remaining in the first half. Collin Robinson scored on an assist from Dylan Timoney.
But soon enough Hughes and sophomore Zach Hanson separated from the defense for one of their 2-on-1 breakaways. Hanson passed to Hughes for the shot past the goalie with 6:28 remaining in the first half.
Hughes’ third goal early in the second half was another one when the Davidson defense failed to stay in front of him. He took a pass over his head and found himself alone. To the surprise of no one following Franklin soccer, he scored for a 3-1 led just five minutes into the second half.
The lead was enough for the Patriots with the year-long solid defense in front of goalie Ben Voorhis. The junior finished with 14 saves.
The Franklin crowd was out-numbered by larger schools during the day, but they seemed just as loud.
“We’re all so close at this school, it means a lot to win a state title,” Hughes said. “This is a big deal.”
Crosland, a Franklin teacher, won a state title in his first year as a head coach after serving as an assistant last year.
“These were great guys to coach,” he said. “They bought into everything we worked on this year. I’ve very proud of these guys.”