Some 25 years ago, Jim MacDonald honed his soccer skills under coach George Wagner at Franklin High. Last night, MacDonald, now the North Carroll girls coach, continued to show his former mentor that he picked up a trick or two.
Forward Carly Rihard scored two goals, helping the host Panthers earn a 3-3 tie with No. 8 Franklin, a Class 3A state finalist a year ago, in a stiff early season test for both teams.
North Carroll (0-0-1) led 3-2 before the Indians" Ashley Harris won a ball about 10 yards in front of the goal and beat keeper Jenna Trumpower to her left to tie the game with 16:32 left. That's the way it stayed through two 10-minute, sudden-death overtime periods, as North Carroll failed to capitalize on three prime scoring chances, all involving midfielder Heather Tomko.
"We certainly would've liked to score that fourth goal." MacDonald said. "But Franklin's got an outstanding team. They were in the state championships last season and they've got almost all their players back. I think the season's going to be a good season for us."
North Carroll, which had trouble scoring during the preseason, wasted little time getting on the scoreboard last night.
Just 3:32 into the game, Rihard dribbled past a defender and scored, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead. That lead, however, was brief.
Franklin (1-0-1) answered with two goals in the next 1:43, by Martha Mitchell and Meghan Higgins, to take a 2-1 lead.
This time, however, it was North Carroll that answered, tying the game when Rihard fired a shot off goalie Alyson Josephs and teammate Emily Trainor put in the ricochet, still just 7:58 into the first half.
"The first 10 minutes was about as exciting as you can get." MacDonald said.
The Panthers took a 3-2 lead into halftime on Rihard's second goal before Harris tied it midway through the second half.
In overtime, Tomko barely missed setting up a pair of po tential game-winners - one on a crossing pass to the middle that no one could get a foot on, and another minutes later after she fed Trainor, whose chest-high shot was saved by Josephs.
Tomko also had a chance to score in the second overtime, but Franklin's Kendall Thrift came from the left side to slide-tackle the ball out of bounds.
"I think this was a good test." Tomko said. "Mentally it's going to help us throughout the season. I think a lot of people are underestimating our team this year. I think we're a great team. We've worked really hard, and we"re starting to click really well together."
The teams are 1-1-2 in their past four meetings.
"That was about as even a soccer match as you can get." Wagner said.