Franklin Girls Soccer Has a Three-point Plan for Tourney

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Offense, follow-through and players’ physical health are top priorities for Franklin High’s girls’ soccer.
Issue Date: 
November, 2018
Article Body: 

Tournament soccer is about to begin, and if the Franklin High girls squad hopes to advance, it’ll need to adhere to coach Tom Geysen’s three-point plan for “staying alive.’’
“We must control the ball on offense, be able to finish plays and be physically healthy,’’ said Geysen who’s coached the program for 34 years and directed the 2012 team to a state championship by defeating Nashoba. “I’m not sure how this year’s team will fare, and I wasn’t sure how well we’d do in 2012. You can lose in the tourney early on by running into a dynamic goalie, and being in a one-and-done situation is always a challenge.’’
The Panthers’ goals at the start of the season were to be the best they could be and to qualify for the tourney. As far as improvement goes, Geysen’s corps can check that box. They’ve also sharpened their skills, thanks to playing in the demanding Kelly-Rex Division of the Hockomock League. The Panthers were 7-2-4 at Local Town Pages deadline.
“Our strengths are our work ethic, experience, athleticism, our soccer IQ, and our conditioning,’’ Geysen noted. “My prime concern is staying healthy. During the last few years, we’ve gone into the tourney injured and bruised.’’
Unfortunately, one of Geysen’s top players — captain Halle Atkinson —
won’t be available for the playoffs. The four-year veteran, who could play forward, midfielder or defense, tore her ACL in the Mansfield game and is out for the season. “Halle was a key player,’’ Geysen said. “She was versatile, athletic, fast and very capable. A three-sport athlete, she led by example.’’
Atkinson’s absence hurts, but Franklin’s other two senior captains — central defender Grace Gallo and midfielder/forward Calen Frongillo — are skilled leaders who’ll likely play key roles in the tourney.
“Grace has a high soccer IQ, is well-skilled, reads the game well and anticipates effectively,’’ Geysen said. “Calen knows the game, gets good touches on the ball and is strong on corners and re-starts. Grace leads by example and so does Calen who can also be vocal.’’
A trio of seniors who all play on the outside are talented and top-notch. They include Maddie Stewart (defender), Hailey Toolin (midfielder) and Emily Landry (defender).
“Maddie is athletic and has excellent speed,’’ said Geysen. “Well-skilled, she’s very capable defending in key situations. Hailey also has speed, is tough and is strong in transition. She’s got good endurance and has developed a scoring touch. Emily is coachable, knows her position, has a high soccer IQ, can play angles well and isn’t afraid of contact.’’
Two senior forwards, who Geysen labels as “aggressive and physical,’’ will be counted on in a strategic manner. “Kaylee DeSimone and Olivia Dellorco will be expected to put pressure on our opponents’ backs,’’ said Geysen. “We want them to pressure the ball and disrupt offenses.’’
The junior class has been a major plus this year and no doubt will display a high-quality skill level. Sabrina Addi is a central back, Carly Alston plays center midfield, Breanna Atwood is the Panthers’ goalie, Anna Balkus can play either forward or midfield and Sami Powderly can handle a midfield or back position.
“Sabrina has size, is physical and skilled,’’ Geysen said. “She knows the game. Carly is skilled, has a high soccer IQ and gets good touches on the ball. Breanna is in her first year starting in goal. She’s very athletic, has excellent hands and is instinctive when the ball is hit. Her technique has improved and she’s more vocal. Anna creates opportunities because of her athleticism and excellent speed. She’s also quick, hard-working and relentless. Sami is speed, too. She knows the game, is tough, has stamina and is relentless.’’
Two juniors — defenders CJ Buckley and Katie Nguyen — have been utilized in reserve roles this year and have displayed a solid work ethic.
Outside midfielder Erin Quaile and forward Sydney St. Marie are high-profile sophomores who’ve earned Geysen’s praise. “Erin is a natural athlete,’’ he noted. “She uses her body so well on both sides of the ball and she absorbs contact effectively. Sydney is tenacious, always going hard to the ball. She’s finishing better, and her work ethic is great. She’s like the Energizer bunny.’’
Two soph reserves include goalie Julia Bertone, who has seen action on the jayvees, and midfielder Bridgette Ginley. Junior Hailey Donahue, a back-up goalie like Bertone, has also played on the junior varsity and briefly with the varsity.
Two freshmen who get lots of playing time include center midfielder Stella Regan and defender/forward Izzi Arnold. “Stella is small in stature but big on skills,’’ Geysen emphasized. “She sees the field well, has good moves and is a play-maker who can also score. Izzi is a work in progress but she shows great promise. She’s a very hard-working player.’’
Geysen, who also coaches boy’s track, has relied on a competitive philosophy that focuses on a team-first perspective that includes winning. And, in the process, the Panthers have won their share of Hockomock titles and playoff games.
“When you’re coaching at the varsity level, winning is important,’’ he says. “But, it’s also important that players improve and experience enjoyment. I also stress that it’s okay to set individual goals, but in the end, players have to be on the same page with team-oriented objectives. It’s all about relying on team play.’’
To be successful in the tourney, Franklin will count on its strengths that carried the day for the last two months. They’ve got a talented squad that understands the value of desire, devotion and dedication. They also have a veteran coach who knows the ropes and that combination could produce some memorable moments.