FRANKLIN, Ind. – After four consecutive matches away from home, the Franklin men's soccer team returned to action at home on Monday (Sept. 17) night, taking on Finlandia University.
For the second consecutive match, the Grizzlies (2-5) held a decided advantage on shot clock, controlling the pace of play for nearly 90 minutes against the Lions (1-7). With the match scoreless late in regulation, junior Jordan Thomas played hero, scoring in the 86th minute to send the Grizzlies to a 1-0 win.
"The big thing in games like this is to stay positive," Thomas said after the match. "At halftime, we were starting to get into each other a little bit, but we had a positive mindset when we got back out on the field. We've been playing more aggressive the last few matches, and we know that's how we're going to win games. The last two games have seen that hard work pay off."
The chances for the Grizzlies developed early and often, with the first quality chance coming on a Matt Powell header that deflected off a defender and rang off the crossbar in the 14th minute. Franklin ended the first half with an 8-2 edge in shot attempts, but headed into the break in a scoreless tie.
The Grizzlies ramped up the pressure in the second half, out-shooting the Lions 19-1 over the final 45 minutes. Thomas had a clean look at the keeper in the 47th minute, but at the last minute a defender contested his shot and the ball sailed over the crossbar. In the 76th minute, Mason May and Roberto Lara had consecutive chances in close, but both attempts were stopped by Finlandia keeper Noah Raisanen.
With time winding down and overtime on the horizon, the Grizzlies got the goal they were in search of. Lara sent a crossing feed into the box that deflected off a defender and landed on Thomas' right foot. The Whiteland, Ind.-native made no mistake, hammering a shot off the right post and into the net to send the Grizzlies to victory.
Shots were 27-3 in favor of the Grizzlies on the night, with Thomas' seven shot attempts leading all players. May was a force all night long, finishing with five shot attempts and a pair of shots on goal. Eleven different Grizzlies finished the night with at least one shot attempt.
He wasn't tested often, but Franklin keeper Jake Hendricks was sharp when he was tested, making a pair of saves to earn his second clean sheet of the season.
The Grizzlies wrap up their brief two-match homestand on Saturday (Sept. 22) afternoon. Franklin welcomes Greenville University to Faught Stadium, with kick-off set for 3:00 p.m.