BRENTWOOD — With a pair of top-level defenses facing off, Thursday night’s girls soccer showdown between Ravenwood and Franklin High School was expected to be a low-scoring affair.
It actually turned out to a no-scoring affair.
In a rematch of last year’s Class AAA state championship game, the Lady Raptors and Lady Admirals battled to a scoreless District 11-AAA draw in front of a lively crowd on the Ravenwood campus.
The contest played out very similar to last fall’s title contest, when the teams battled through 80 minutes of scoreless action before Ravenwood ultimately captured its second consecutive state championship by beating Franklin in a penalty-kick shootout.
But on Thursday — unlike last November — there was no overtime period or shootout. Instead, the teams shook hands after a 0-0 lockdown.
“For this match to end in a tie, just like it did in the state final, it’s kind of poetic, really,” said Ravenwood head coach Jessica Mancini. “But the truth is, any time we play Franklin, or play Brentwood, it’s always going to be super competitive like it was tonight.”
Thursday’s match wasn’t really about opportunities that were missed. It was more about the lack of them altogether.
The teams combined for only nine shots on goal — seven by the Lady Admirals — and very few were clean looks. Perhaps the only true “oh-so-close” moment came deep into the second half, when Franklin’s Emma Shields squared up a shot that narrowly missed the mark and banged off the cross bar.
Mostly, though, the two defenses controlled the flow.
“It was a very tight game, just as I was expecting it to be,” said Franklin’s Abby Marak. “They’ve got a lot of great players, and we’ve got a lot of great players, too. … Overall, I think tonight was a good look (in terms of) what are going to play like in the postseason. We’d love to see them again.”
Ravenwood goalkeeper Lexi Grundler finished with six saves, including a pair of nice sliding stops. Franklin’s Ava Yamas notched the shutout in goal on the other end, and teammate Jessica DeSantis contributed a huge defensive play midway through the second half.
The fact that the game was high on intensity and low on scoring came as no surprise to Ravenwood’s Lauren Hiatt.
“(A lot of the players on the field tonight) play club together, so we know how talented they are,” said Hiatt. “We knew they would strong through the midfield, and they definitely were. It was just a really even match.”
Mancini said she was pleased with the Lady Raptors’ effort level, but said she wants to see her team be more aggressive in certain situations.
“We definitely need to generate more offense,” she said. “They came at us hard — and we wanted to go at them just as hard. The first half we looked a lot better going forward, but in the second half we broke down up top a little bit. We definitely did not have as many shots as we wanted to have.”
In last year’s championship game, Ravenwood won the shootout when now graduated seniors Anna Major, Nora Henderson, Maddie Gleason and Josie Ricketts converted kicks, and Kendal Curran made back-to-back saves.
Mancini didn’t deny that her players brought some extra emotion into Thursday’s game that carried over from last year’s frantic finish.
“That’s what they are thinking about — let’s be real,” said Mancini with a smile.
Franklin’s Marak agreed that the championship game was very much on the minds of the Lady Admiral players.
“We’ve got a lot of girls who wanted some blood tonight,” said Marak. “I mean, we think we weren’t handed the best toss in that game, but overall, I think we (showed) we are just going to come in and fight for it every time.”
Franklin moved to 4-1-3 overall heading into a home match Monday against Clarksville. The Lady Raptors (6-2-2) travel to Brentwood next week.