Franklin flexes offensive might in blanking Winchester, 6-0

FRANKLIN – Through its typical combination of elite speed and depth, the fourth-seeded Franklin field hockey team’s red-hot offense couldn’t be cooled off Wednesday night as part of a 6-0 Div. 1 second-round win over No. 13 Winchester.

Raena Crandall scored a goal and dished three assists, pairing with Haley Wernig’s two goals and Emily Carney’s goal and assist to overwhelm the Red and Black from start to finish. Winchester (14-6) had no issue getting the ball on the Panthers’ side of the field, but couldn’t generate more than a pair of shots on goal.

Franklin (19-0-1) got 37 off helping it score at least five times for a sixth straight game. The Panthers are the last unbeaten team left in Div. 1 and get No. 5 Acton-Boxboro in the state quarterfinals next.

“Every single game, they just keep getting better and better,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They’re coming together as a team, they’re executing all the things that we’ve told them, they’re playing clean hockey. … I’m just very happy with the way they’re playing right now and I like the momentum, and I like the energy.”

Winchester goalie Molly Hillier (29 saves) held her own and the defense had her back with two defensive saves, but Franklin’s deep attack was just too relentless to stave off.

The Panthers set the tone midway through the first quarter when it drew seven of its 17 total corners in a row, of which Hillier stood her ground on a barrage of shots to keep Franklin off the scoreboard. A defensive save came in that sequence too, though the goals flooded in from there. Crandall’s rocket from around the stroke line to the back-left corner gave Franklin a lead with 3:54 left in the opening frame, and Wernig made it 2-0 from the same spot just 30 seconds later.

“I tell them, ‘We’ve got to get down there, we’ve got to generate our offense and we’ve got to score,’ and they’re so capable of doing it,” Hess said. “Eventually, you’re going to wear (the other team) out. (Seven) corners in a row for those girls sprinting back to help out, that wears out their forwards and midfielders. … That (fast start) is kind of one of our philosophies.”

The 10 corners and 16 shots on goal Franklin generated in the quarter certainly wore Winchester down a bit. Chloe Essam redirected another rocket from Crandall early in the third to make it 3-0, and Sophia Cuneo (goal, assist) slammed in a send from Crandall at the left post for a 4-0 halftime lead.

Carney’s aerial shot on a corner at the end of the third quarter put Franklin up 5-0, and she assisted on Wernig’s second goal of the game later in the fourth.

Aside from the quick, one-two punch early in the first quarter, Winchester made many transitions into the offensive end following each Franklin score to threaten. Ava Paragas and Julia Legere led the Red and Black in advancing the ball, but Lindsay Dennett and the rest of the Franklin defense never let each bid turn into any real dangers.

“We work a lot on our transition play, and we work a lot on our diagonal defense,” Hess said. “Our focus this year has been a lot on defense.”


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