• Photos/Tom Pantaleo - Franklin junior Angel Ruffner (12) scans the field while tracking down the ball during Wednesday’s game against Carolina Day. The Panthers scored a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining for a 1-0 win.
    Photos/Tom Pantaleo - Franklin junior Angel Ruffner (12) scans the field while tracking down the ball during Wednesday’s game against Carolina Day. The Panthers scored a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining for a 1-0 win.

Late goal lifts FHS

Jordan Guilmette started Wednesday’s game playing defense. But locked in a scoreless tie, Franklin coach Rita Esterwood moved the speedy sophomore to right forward.
   “When we’re 0-0 and need goals, and we don’t have a lot of pressure on defense, they send me up because of my speed,” Guilmette said.
   The combination of Guilmette’s speed – she jokingly likens herself to Lightning McQueen from the movie Cars – and a steady wind behind Franklin led to multiple scoring chances in the second half against Carolina Day. Guilmette netted a goal with 9 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game, which was the only goal scored in Franklin’s 1-0 nonconference win.
   Esterwood watched the Wildcats play when FHS and Carolina Day attended at the same preseason scrimmage. She knew they were very organized and expected a defensive battle.
   “That was really fortunate we got a look at them there,” Esterwood said. “And we knew they were gonna be organized and have good foot skills, and it was gonna be a tough battle.”
   Franklin’s scoring play started with a punt from goalkeeper Cassidy Zemmin. The ball landed well past midfield, took a high bounce and continued toward Carolina Day’s goal. 
Guilmette let the ball bounce over the defender’s head before tracking it down and racing past them. She fired a right-footed shot, and was surprised to see it clear the goalkeeper’s hands and sail into the top left side of the net.
   “I was excited to get a goal,” said Guilmette, who now has three goals this season. “I thought it was going to go over.”
   The goal came only a couple minutes after a similar play, when Guilmette sped past the defense. She took a shot, but Carolina Day’s keeper blocked it. The rebound went back to Guilmette, who took a left-footed shot. It too was blocked, but once again the rebound came toward Guilmette, whose third shot sailed high.
   “I had a girl in my back pushing me,” Guilmette said. “I guess my adrenaline was going too fast and I kind of took a chance.”
   Franklin (5-1, 4-0 WNC Athletic Conference) hadn’t played a game in nine days because of spring break. Esterwood noticed the Panthers’ legs weren’t quite in the same condition as normal, but told them at halftime to push through it.
   “It was an adjustment because we hadn’t been practicing for a whole week with spring break, and had two practices (this week),” junior Emilee Lane said. “So we did really well for our first game back.”
   Carolina Day is a private school in Asheville. The Wildcats arrived to the soccer field at Macon Middle School in a charter bus.
   Guilmette had her doubts about whether Franklin would win after watching the charter bus roll in and seeing the size of the players.
   “I saw the girls and I thought, they’re big, this might be a tough game,” Guilmette said. 
   “But then we actually pulled through, we did good.”
   Zemmin earned her fourth shutout. The senior goalkeeper has allowed only three goals all season, two of which came in the season-opening 2-1 loss at Asheville Christian Academy.
   “Cassidy had two amazing saves,” Esterwood said. “Just beautiful saves.”
   Although it was a nonconference win, it’s still a big confidence boost for the Panthers.
   “This win definitely helped us,” Lane said.
   Franklin improved to 29-2 at home over the past four seasons, including the state playoffs.
   The Panthers will return to WNCAC play next week, hosting West Henderson on Tuesday and East Henderson on Thursday. They’ll travel to East on Friday, meaning they’ll play the same team on back-to-back days.
“We’ve just got to read them really well that first day and then be ready to do what we need to do that second day,” Esterwood said.

The Franklin Press

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