BRENTWOOD – About four weeks ago, the Ravenwood High School girls soccer team dropped a 2-1 match at rival Franklin. The Lady Admirals clinched the regular season District 12-AAA title with the win.
On Thursday, the pair will battle for the Region 6-AAA championship and the right to host a Class AAA Sectional contest over the weekend.
“At any one time you don’t know what to expect when two teams like this play,” said Ravenwood coach Jessica Mancini after the Lady Raptors raced to a 12-0 win over Cane Ridge in the region semifinals Tuesday. “We expect the level of play on Thursday to be high and we expect to meet it.”
Ravenwood needed just a half Tuesday to overwhelm Cane Ridge, the District 11-AAA runners-up. Marcela Forero Pretto, this week’s Gateway Tire Female Athlete of the Week, scored twice early on feeds from Anna Major and Maddie Gleason.
Major, Henderson, Gracie Hill and Sarah Kate Rath all had a goal and an assist Tuesday, while Katie Devereaux and Jenny Douglas scored twice. Camie Lobliner and Josie Ricketts each added tallies for Ravenwood.
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Franklin’s scheduled semifinal against District 11-AAA winner Overton was canceled Tuesday. The Lady Bobcats were forced to forfeit due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols.
Lady Admirals coach Mike Burgoyne said his team enters Thursday’s region final at a disadvantage having not played since last week’s 1-0 setback against Centennial in the District 12-AAA tournament semifinals. Their regular season finale on Oct. 5 against Clarksville was also cancelled due to COVID-19.
“You can train all you want and do all the fitness you can, but nothing reproduces what you get out of playing in games,” Burgoyne said. “We are fortunate and happy to have this opportunity to get to play, though. This one means a lot.”
Burgoyne, like Mancini, is using the right to host a sectional on Saturday as added motivation.
“Having that one last memory for our seniors on their home field, that’s huge,” Burgoyne said.
On Sept. 24 in Franklin, Emma Shields controlled the midfield for the Lady Admirals and Brenna Swiger constantly slowed the Ravenwood attack.
“We will be looking to slow Emma down and also just looking to get some more shots off on our end,” Mancini said. “We want to control the middle more this time around. They beat us to the ball and out-matched us then and hopefully we can elevate our level of play.”
Burgoyne credited his team’s fast start for setting the tone in that last meeting.
Avery Brown scored on a corner kick in the fifth minute for Franklin before Pretto answered in the 10th. Margaret DeFranco tallied the final goal of the match in the 30th as both teams battled to a stalemate in the second half.
“Our seniors did a great job of getting our team mentally prepared to start the game,” he said. “I think we were ready to go from the onset and starting quick may have been the biggest difference.”
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Regardless of that last meeting, both coaches are still nervous about what their teams might look like come Thursday. With constantly shifting moves due to COVID-19, Burgoyne and Mancini are just trying to keep their teams as safe as possible.
“There’s this extra level of stress on everyone and the girls, it’s something you have to always be thinking about on top of everything else,” Mancini said. “I think the most terrifying piece of this is how we aren’t in control at all. That’s just hard to deal with while trying to be focused on soccer.”
“I always go back to the end of July and August when we thought we might not even get a season,” Burgoyne added. “I know we are both happy to be able to play, I just don’t know what my team might look like unfortunately.”
Thursday’s region championship is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at Ravenwood.