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Griffins birthday pays with big present

Sometimes the best birthday presents you give to yourself. Delaney Griffin knows this to be true.
 
The junior soccer forward for Franklin gave herself the birthday gift of a district championship Thursday night, as her game-winning goal in the 101st minute gave the Lady Rebels a 1-0 victory over Ravenwood in the finals of the District 11-AAA tournament at Cheek Park.
 
“I definitely thought it was going to be close,” she said. “They are one of the best teams in the state, but I thought we were the better team (Thursday).”
 
“We were anticipating a lot of the things they were doing,” Franklin coach Jimmy Burchett said. “It was the best team effort we’ve had all year.”
 
Both teams advance to the Region 6-AAA tournament next week, with Franklin (14-1-5) hosting the District 12-AAA runner-up and Ravenwood (9-1-3) traveling to face the 12-AAA champion.
 
During the opening seconds of the 5-minute golden goal period, Griffin took a pass after a throw-in for Franklin and saw a clear path to the goal in front of her about 35 yards away. She sent the ball on net hoping to make a play, and Ravenwood keeper Audrey Sanderson tried to punch it out, only to have it deflect off the crossbar and into the net.
 
“I saw no one in front of me, so I took the shot and it went in,” Griffin said. “This is the best feeling in the world.”
 
Franklin (14-1-5) had tied the Lady Raptors (9-1-3) on Oct. 3, and that result gave Ravenwood the regular season title and No. 1 seed for the tournament because of tiebreakers. The two teams played to a stalemate for regulation and 20 minutes of overtime again Thursday, thanks to strong play by the defense on both sides.
 
“Most of the time this year, we’ve been panicking and kicking the ball around in tight situations,” Burchett said. “(Thursday) we were looking for teammates to play the ball to and stay in possession.”
 
The goalkeepers for both teams made save after save, with Franklin’s Jessica Harvey punching away shots with just inches to spare and the Ravenwood tandem of Audrey Sanderson and Lindsey Todd stopping point blank attempts from the Rebels.
 
Unofficially Harvey finished with 12 saves, while Ravenwood’s keepers saved six Rebel shots on goal.
 
“(Harvey) was just incredible,” Burchett said.
 
Both teams’ conditioning was tested with the extra time, especially since Burchett elected not to use as many subs during the game, he said. Ravenwood, which had difficulty in the first half creating offensive chances, put plenty of pressure on during the final minutes of regulation and OT.
 
The Lady Raptors’ best scoring chance came in the 89th minute when Dayna Hood beat a defender and worked the ball inside the goal box for a shot. She fired the ball from less than five yards away and a charging Harvey corralled it to end the threat.
 
The region semifinals likely will be Tuesday, and the two teams reaching the finals automatically advance to next Saturday’s sectional round, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
 
“We’ll probably have to come back and do this again next week,” Burchett said. “It should be another dogfight. You hope both teams can get up two times in a row like that.”
 

Posted on: 10/18/2013

 
 

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