By Ernest Stone
For Gateway High School’s starting goalkeeper Fauris Franco, keeping goals out of the net is usually his first objective.
Yet, after disciplinary action led Franco to be subbed in as a forward against Lick-Wilmerding, putting goals in the net became his new purpose, as his hat trick lifted the Gators (1-1) to a 5-2 non-league victory on Thursday at Crocker Amazon Playground.
Despite the Gators’ enthusiastic and energetic attack early on, Lick-Wilmerding (1-1) got on the board first with a seventh-minute goal from Tomas Fuentes-Affleck.
It wasn’t until Franco connected from short range in the 35th minute that Gateway, who dominated ball possession the entire first half, was finally able to break through.
Yet, just two minutes into the second half, Fuentes-Affleck finessed a long distance chip shot over Gateway goalkeeper Dylan Hyman’s head to retake the lead, and seemingly the momentum.
“It was really anybody’s game at that point,” said Lick-Wilmerding head coach Matt Kurnick. “Yet a lot of the sloppy play we had gotten away with earlier proved to be a problem.”
Such was true of Lick-Wilmerding’s back line, who, faced with the injury of key defender Chet Brown, and an unrelenting surge from the Gator offense, surrendered four consecutive goals.
The Gators run began with Franco scoring off a counter attack in the 54th minute, tying the game at 2-2.
By the time Alejandro Calderon put the Gators up 3-2 in the 60th minute, the Gateway offense had assumed full control of the match.
Gateway’s ability to score with ease proved to be a stark contrast from the first half.
“As you can tell we really like to get out there and go,” said Gateway head coach Joe Killmaier. “We just kept attacking, and once we had rearranged a couple guys’ positions, we got it done.”
Another laser from Franco in the 73rd minute, coupled with a last-second goal from Marlon Morales, all but put the game beyond reach for Lick-Wilmerding.
“We still have work to do,” Kurnick said. “We are still moving our new guys around, toying with the positions.”
A key element of their success this season will be getting healthy, as only 14 players of Lick-Wilmerding’s 19 man roster were suited and ready to play in Thursday’s contest.
As for Franco, he will find himself back in goal for Gateway’s next contest.
“I don’t mind at all,” said Franco. “It’s the position I love.”
LW – 7th minute: Tomas Fuentes-Affleck
G – 35th minute: Fauris Franco
LW – 42nd minute: Fuentes-Affleck
G – 54th minute: Franco
G – 60th minute: Alejandro Calderon
G – 73rd minute: Franco
G – 80th minute: Marlon Morales