Girls Soccer: Franklin 2, Beverly 1

LYNN, Mass. -– Led by senior captain Kristi Kirshe and sophomore Taylor Cogliano, No. 1 ranked Franklin punched a ticket to the MIAA Division 1 state championship game, with a 2-0 win over Beverly.

Kirshe drew first blood just seven minutes into the game, scoring her 100th career goal on free kick from about 30 yards out. She was the catalyst of Franklin’s offense throughout, constantly attracting close attention from Beverly’s defense.

The striker, Cogliano, who narrowly missed scoring on several occasions in the second half before increasing the lead with 11 minutes to go, was able to break away from a Beverly defender who had misplayed a ball near midfield.

“Eventually Kristi was going to get something and Taylor is good enough, skilled enough where she would get an opportunity,” Franklin head coach Tom Geyson said. “After that first goal I think they kind of took control of the game, but the last 15 minutes I thought we played really well, we really put the pressure on.”

Cogliano was the most aggressive player on the field in the second half, getting several opportunities to score around the net as a result of quick instinct and beating Beverly to 50-50 balls. Her goal late in the second half put the game completely out of reach for Beverly.

With the win, Franklin advances to the Division 1 state championship game against Nashoba, the top-seeded squad from central Mass. who, like Franklin, has yet to lose a game this season.

Despite Nashoba’s undefeated status though, Geyson said he wasn’t as concerned with who Franklin would face in the state championship game, but more about maintaining his team’s preparation and training routine.

“We’ll prepare the same way we have any other game. We’ll have a light workout tomorrow. We’re not going to change what we do, what we are. It’s 22 games through the season, too late to try anything new at the moment,” he said.

Beverly, who ended the season at 18-4-0, will graduate seven seniors. The Panthers are now no stranger to the state tournament, and will be an early favorite in Division 1 north thanks to a strong returning core, led by striker Caitlin Harty, Beverly’s leading goal-scorer this season.

“This is an incredible group of seniors, I couldn’t have asked for better group,” said Beverly head coach Kristin Simpson. “It’s tough to go out like this, but we had a great run and it’s certainly something we won’t forget.

“For those coming back, I hope [the loss to Franklin] is something that stays in the pit of their stomach...hopefully we can make a run at it next year and come back with a different result.”

Franklin, who was recently ranked No. 13 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, will take on Nashoba on Friday at 5 p.m. at Worcester State University. Nashoba knocked off Western Mass. champion Minnechaug, 2-0, in the other girls Division 1 state semifinal match on Thursday night.