By JAKE DONOVAN Photos by STEVE WHEELER
Peyton DePriest scored every goal of the game, but it still required a full team effort for the Franklin Lady Rebels to win the District 11-AAA championship with a 3-0 win over Independence on Thursday at Ravenwood.
“This is one of the best games we’ve played all season,” Franklin head coach Mike Burgoyne said. “Our back six defenders were excellent, as was (goalkeeper Holly Hunter).
“And of course, anytime you have Peyton DePriest on your team anything can happen.”
Another hat trick happened for DePriest, who broke a scoreless tie 12 minutes into the game. The senior all-star added two more goals in a span of less than 10 minutes in the second half to seal the victory for the Lady Rebels, who now advance to Region 6-AAA competition.
“We came out really strong in the first half,” DePriest said. “We managed to give one away but came out strong in the second half to put it away. We knew the effort we had to put in; this is a very strong team.”
Independence had allowed three or more goals in a game just twice all season prior to Thursday; one such occasion coming in a 3-2 loss to Franklin on Sept. 29.
The Lady Eagles knew what to expect in the championship, but couldn’t figure out a way to slow down DePriest and the Lady Rebels.
“She’s very hard to stop,” Independence head coach David Cordero de Jesus noted. “Our goal was to get to her before she could turn around. She’s a phenomenal athlete.”
Independence did well with ball control in the first half, but couldn’t convert the advantage into points on the board. Hunter recorded 11 saves on the game, aided by a strong defensive effort before the Rebels’ offense took over for the rest of the game.
The game was not without its tense moments, with five fouls called and a parent ejected for taunting the officials. DePriest was tripped on no fewer than three occasions, including one non-call that she overcame to score her third goal of the game.
“You just kind of have to work with it while you’re in the game,” DePriest noted of being the focal point of every team on Franklin’s schedule. “You just change what you do. If they key on one thing, you just keeping changing up until it works.”
It worked for the Lady Rebels, who will get to savor the victory into the weekend before awaiting their next opponent in regional play.
“I haven’t seen either team play; it can either be Cane Ridge or McGavock,” Burgoyne pointed out. “Once you get out of district, every opponent is tough.”
The season comes to a close for Independence, but can proudly reflect on the year that was.
“These girls have fought all season long; they’ve had a tremendous season,” Cordero de Jesus said with a smile at night’s end. “We set a school record for wins in a season. We had our moments to extend the season beyond tonight, but at the end of the day they kept us from scoring.
“They are a very strong team. The bottom line is that they beat us to the ball all night long.”
Even in claiming top honors in the district, Franklin is already guarding against complacency as they look to add to their current eight-game win streak – and their trophy case.
“We’re expecting really strong competition, just because it’s Metro,” DePriest said. “Whoever it is, we hope to win and stay around much longer this year.”