“That is the best team we’ve seen all year,” said Titusville boys soccer coach Joey Timon at halftime of their recent home matchup against Franklin.
He was walking back to the sideline after intensely going over some adjustments with his players plotting out positions using plastic cones to diagram where players should be in the second half.
Almost like a gatling-gun, Franklin racked up six unanswered points against the Rockets in the first half. Neither Timon, nor his players wanted that trend to carry over into the second 40 minutes.
“They (Franklin) were a strong team and they came out very fast and played their game,” said Timon after the game. “I think we were able to adapt, unfortunately it was too late.”
The adjustments worked and Franklin did not score again in the game. But Franklin still controlled the ball overall and the few scoring opportunities presented themselves to the Rockets.
Franklin’s Nate Pfennigwerth got the ball quickly on the wing and dribbled and danced, breaking the knees a couple of times of his opponents and scored the first goal in just 28 seconds.
The Franklin barrage kept Titusville goalkeeper Joe Herman very busy.
The ball spent most of the game in the Titusville defensive zone and Herman’s voice could be heard in Pleasantville at times as he directed his defender’s placement to help him defend the goal. Over 20 shots on goal for the Knights.
”Joe is a great kid, his leadership back there (in goal) is invaluable,” Timon said.
The second half still provided scoring opportunities for Franklin, but the Rocket’s tightened their web. Nothing got by Herman and into the net.
Finally, deep in the second half, Hudson Fratus got a ball deep enough to do something with it and scooted one past Franklin’s Reston Weissman for the Rocket’s only goal.
The Knight’s harassed and kept the ball away from Rocket captain Colin Wagner for most of the game. The Rockets only had three shots on goal the entire 80-minutes.
Franklin's patience in passing the ball back and their aggressiveness to balls sent into the zone proved the difference and the biggest challenge for Timon with his relatively new inexperienced defenders.
“That’s what this game is about, it’s adapting,” Timon said. “I was really proud of the guys.
This season’s been kind of like that, we’re learning on the fly but they are literally learning right then and there and that is hard to do - especially with a lot of newer guys, younger guys.”
Timon’s team has not fared well in the region but have battled well keeping the scores down in all their games except the first half Tuesday against Franklin.
“It’s been a good year so far , obviously we’ve got a lot of things to clean up still, but we’re taking a step in the right direction, that is for sure,” Timon added.
They are 3-3-2 with two double overtime ties and an overtime loss. “We scored a lot of goals in those three wins.” Their three losses are to region teams. They were scheduled to play Warren to finish the first half of the region season.
“We get to play them all again and we’re looking forward to that , hopefully come out on top in those. There is no reason we can’t.”
Timon talked about having a lot of first year players and is looking to figure a way to keep kids playing into high school citing the strength of the youth program is there, but by the time middle school comes around they seem to lose interest. “There is a disconnect there and we’re trying to figure it out,” Timon said.
With only a couple freshmen on the team this year they did not field a junior varsity team. Several of their new players were upper class men.
“We need more kids to come out,” said the fourth-year boys coach who has played in adult leagues in Erie for years.
“Soccer is the simplest sport to learn, but it’s the hardest to master,” he said, but has high hopes for the end of the season.
“Four or five starters are first year players, so to do what we’re doing, I’m proud of that.
They’re learning quick. We’re still trying to make a good playoff run.”
This story was written for the Titusville News-Journal.