It should come as no surprise that Franklin Road Academy is back in the state soccer tournament.
The Panthers (17-3-1) are a veteran team, loaded with seniors — seven of them, six being starters.
“We have had wonderful leadership from our seniors, and that’s been a major reason for our success,” 12th-year coach Ken McDonald, who is taking his team to state for the ninth time, said. “They are leading by example.”
It starts with the two captains, seniors Carly Bowen and Taylor Hilborn.
Bowen is the team’s leading scorer with 21 goals and 15 assists (an average of a goal per game). Her last three goals came in the 9-0 DII-A sectional romp over Memphis St. Mary’s last Saturday. She is a Texas Christian University commitment.
Hilborn has 10 goals, including two Saturday, and six assists.
Then there is goalkeeper Mariah Canady whose shutout of St. Mary’s was her 13th of the season.
FRA begins state tournament action 3 p.m. (CDT) Friday at Chattanooga. There, the Panthers take on St. George’s (8-10-3) in the state semifinal match at Girls Prep. The championship match is Saturday.
McDonald had some concern about overconfidence after the Panthers drilled St. Mary’s 6-1 during the season. Not to worry.
“As a coach, you are a little leery of overconfidence after you have beaten a team before,” McDonald said. “What I liked was that our team came out aggressive and determined, eager to compete. Our girls respected St. Mary’s but at the same time, they came into the game with great focus.”
Following Saturday’s game, he went home and watched his alma mater, Penn State, beat Illinois 10-7 for coach Joe Paterno’s Division I record-setting 409th victory.
McDonald has done his share of winning as well. Four of his teams — 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 — won state titles. Two more — 2003 and 2008 — were runner-up.
St. George’s handed FRA its last tournament loss last year 3-1 in sectionals.
“We’re familiar with them,” McDonald said. “They came here and beat us in overtime, 3-1 to end our season. They have a very good team.”
The winner faces the winner of DII-A West champ University School-Jackson against Memphis ECS.
• St. Cecilia, which got to the DII-A state volleyball finals last week in Murfreesboro, just missed joining FRA in the state soccer event. The Scarabs lost to ECS 2-1 on penalty kicks in sectionals.
• In the DII-AA tournament, Battle Ground Academy and Father Ryan both made the Final Four.
BGA will meet St. Agnes, and Ryan faces Baylor in the semis. BGA trounced Briarcrest 6-2, and Ryan blanked St. Benedict 1-0 in sectionals.
• In the Class A/AA tournament, district foes Christ Presbyterian Academy and Hume-Fogg both made the tournament.
CPA meets Gatlinburg-Pittman, and Hume-Fogg plays Christian Academy of Knoxville in the quarterfinals.
• District rivals Franklin (21-0) and Ravenwood both advanced to the Class AAA tournament.
• The state cross country championships will take place 10 a.m. Saturday at the Percy Warner Steeplechase course.
STATE SOCCER TOURNAMENT
(All times CDT)
Class AAA at Baylor
Wednesday: 10:30 a.m.—Ravenwood-Farragut; 1 p.m. – Siegel-Houston; 3:30 p.m.—Franklin vs. Bearden; 6 p.m.—Collierville vs. Soddy Daisy. Thursday: 3:30 and 6 p.m.—semifinals; Saturday, 12:30 p.m.—Finals (at GPS).
Class A/AA at Chattanooga Christian
Wednesday: 10:30 a.m.—Madison-Notre Dame; 1 p.m.—CPA-Gatlinburg-Pittman; 3:30 p.m.—Hume-Fogg-CAK; 6 p.m.—Chatt. Christian-Chester County. Thursday: 3:30 and 6 p.m.—semifinals. Saturday, 10 a.m.—Finals (at GPS).
DII-AA at Baylor
Friday: 3:30 p.m.—BGA-St. Agnes; 6 p.m.—Baylor-Father Ryan. Saturday, 5:30 p.m.—Finals (at GPS).
DII-A at GPS
Friday: 3:30 p.m.—FRA vs. St. George’s; 6 p.m.—USJ vs. ECS. Saturday, 3 p.m.—Finals (at GPS).