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High School Soccer

Soccer: Ravenwood, Franklin set to battle once again

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Soccer – Brentwood vs. Franklin, 11-AAA Semifinals

Emma Shields and Avery Brown 

BRENTWOOD – In between matches Tuesday, the top girls soccer players in District 11-AAA all shared an embrace.  

Emma Shields of Franklin, Emma Majors of Brentwood and Sarah Kate Rath of Ravenwood — the district Player of the Year in Shields and the co-Offensive MVPs — gathered for a quick hug at midfield at Brentwood High School. The club soccer teammates were just a few of many who have shared teams over the summers only to play head-to-head representing their high schools.  

That’s the way much of Williamson County athletics tend to go, especially on the soccer pitch. However, when the clock starts, it quickly turns all business between besties.   

“It’s game on right when that whistle blows,” Shields said. “We are here to compete against one another and give each other our best. ... and be ruthless and relentless, but, yeah, of course we will hug it out afterward.”  

And they did after Rath guided top-seeded and two-time defending Class AAA champion Ravenwood to a 7-0 win over No. 4 Centennial and after Shields bested Majors and Brentwood as the Lady Admirals rallied in the second half for a 3-1 victory in the district semifinals.  

The wins mean Franklin and Ravenwood will face off for the second time this season in the District 11-AAA championship. The two teams continued their scoreless battle over two seasons of regulation with a 0-0 draw on Sept. 16 in the first meeting since the Lady Raptors clinched the state title over Franklin by penalty kicks in early November of 2020. It should be noted the two split wins prior to the championship showdown.  

“I think we are all just excited to be here on this road again,” said Lady Raptor senior Lauren Hiatt, another club teammate locally. “We just want to keep this going as long as we can.”  

Ravenwood built an early 2-0 lead on the Lady Cougars on goals by Gracie Hill and Bella Macaso near the midway mark of the first half. The Lady Raptors, who clipped an upstart Centennial program in the same match last season, scored five more in the second half taking advantage of crisp ball movement.  

“Centennial gave us a lot of space, and with our communication, our backline was able to switch easily, and as long as we moved off the ball, we were able to connect,” Ravenwood senior Ally Brown said. “This builds our confidence heading into Thursday.”   

Rath, who assisted on four tallies Tuesday, opened the second half with a corner put away by Leah Johnson. Rath also found Hill one more time and Bella Macaso for another tally in the second half barrage, while Johnson closed the scoring on a strong kick off a ball from freshman Emily Callanen.  

Centennial coach MaryLynn Williams said her team, plagued by injuries this season, was just trying to stay competitive.  

“Ravenwood is just crazy talented across the board,” she said.  

Williams and the Lady Cougars made an impact on the district last season falling in the same match in the larger district. An injury to returning standout Ava Distefano in their third match deflated the team before regrouping midway through the season. The girls were dealt another blow heading into the semis when junior Jenna Drobny was ruled out.  

“It gets tough when your numbers start dwindling, but we just focused on staying competitive to keep this new style of play going at Centennial,” Williams said. “We want to play touch-for-touch with a high pace. There’s definitely been some ups and downs, but this team never gave up and always gave themselves a chance.  

“We just didn’t quite have the magic this year.”  

In the later match, Brentwood produced a fast start to put Franklin on its heels. Majors launched a corner in the 13th minute to Haley Hannah, who converted a header for an early 1-0 lead.  

“We have been working all season about starting off really good and we did that today,” said Majors, who had a long shot tipped over the crossbar by Franklin keeper Ava Yamas in the eighth minute.  

Shields said the match came down to momentum, and Franklin grabbed all of it in the second half.  

“They just played awesome in the second half,” the senior said. “When a team gets momentum like that, it’s so good mentally. We had that in the first half, but they took it.”  

The Lady Admirals struck with the equalizer in the 44th when Avery Brown punched in a rebound.  

“That first goal woke us up a bit,” Franklin coach Mike Burgoyne said. “The girls just adjusted well and the lights came on. We’re fortunate, because a lot of times when you start like we did, you don’t get to come back.”  

Four minutes later, the Lady Admirals took the lead when Shannon Ward fired a long ball that took one bounce and slipped over Brentwood keeper Jewel Molina, who had racked up more than a half dozen saves up to that point.  

The final goal came in the 51st when Shields received a short pass from Brown near the top of the box to the right of the goal, took a couple dribbles and rocketed in an emotional tally.  

“Having that moment in the district semifinals to help solidify a win, it could not be more emotional for me,” said Shields, who missed most of the season because of injury and was playing in just her second full match. “For that to go in, in this game, it’s God’s work, and I cannot be more thankful for that.”  

Majors provided one last look for the Lady Bruins in the 75th with a cross to Hannah, but the fellow senior’s header was stopped by a diving Yamas. 

Shields, who has admitted more than once that she thinks of last year’s championship loss to Ravenwood “every day,” said she’s excited for a rematch with the Lady Raptors Thursday.  

“Every time we get to compete against them, it’s just really emotional with that history,” she said. “It’s just always a rivalry we look forward to and a game that pushes our limits and tests us.  

“And I just can’t wait.”  

Thursday’s match will also be played at Brentwood at 7 p.m.

District 11-AAA Soccer Awards

The 2021 All-District 11-AAA team and award winners 

2021 All-District 11-AAA Soccer Awards

Player of the Year – Emma Shields, Franklin

Most Valuable Offensive Player(s) of the Year – Sarah Kate Rath, Ravenwood; Emma Majors, Brentwood

Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Year – Meghan Lee, Brentwood

Goalkeeper of the Year – Lexi Grundler, Ravenwood

Coach of the Year – Jessica Mancini, Ravenwood

All-District 11-AAA Team

Ally Brown, Ravenwood; Lauren Hiatt, Ravenwood; Leah Johnson, Ravenwood; Bella Macaso, Ravenwood; Abigail Dibble, Ravenwood; Avery Brown, Franklin; Margaret DeFranco, Franklin; Yukino Wakatsuki, Franklin; Jessie DeSantis, Franklin; Abby Marak, Franklin; Haley Hannah, Brentwood; Ella Glover, Brentwood; Saba Kent, Brentwood; Avery Greene, Brentwood; Jenna Drobny, Centennial; Jules Garrison, Centennial; Kaitlyn Skrove, Centennial.

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