Ryan Radcliffe has won consistently at every level of soccer he’s competed in – at the club level, as a Bearden player, as a Maryville College player, and now as Bearden’s head coach.
In all that success, he says that not many memories can compete with his favorite Bearden-Farragut moments.
“Some of my biggest moments that I have experienced as a player or a coach in my soccer career have come against Farragut,” Coach Radcliffe said. “I still get chills when I think about the times I scored the winning goal in this game as a player or when my boys got their first win against them or when my girls were able to defeat them this past season for the chance to go to state.”
He is hoping his players can create another one of those memories Friday when Bearden travels to Farragut at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs beat the Admirals 3-2 in the regular season last year, but fell 1-0 in a district tournament semifinal three weeks later.
Every year, this game means more to the players. Senior Ty Trikones said this year is no different.
“It’s everything,” Trikones said. “We think about it year-round. I’ll be thinking about how much I wish I could play them again the day after the game.”
In an 8-0 win against Central earlier this week, Trikones had two goals for the Bulldogs. He believes that to get a win on Friday, he will need to continue to come out strong and score goals.
“They have a great team, but I think we just need to play our game how we’ve been playing lately,” Trikones said. “We just need to be strong in the middle and up top, and we’ll put a lot of goals away.”
Farragut (6-5) has had a strong season thus far, winning big games against Webb and Science Hill.
Although Farragut has had success this season, players believe Bearden’s preseason matchups could help them to get a win against this strong team.
“This year we’ve played really well against tough competition in preseason,” junior Jonathan Meystrik said. “I really think this is going to be a great game between two really good teams.”
In rivalry games, it’s easy to let emotion play a factor on the field. Coach Radcliffe believes that if his team is able to stick to just playing soccer, they can pick up a win.
“I think we have to play relaxed and disciplined soccer,” Coach Radcliffe said. “It is easy in a game against Farragut to let your nerves and excitement get the best of you, but historically, the team that is able to finish their chances early and take the emotion out of the game has been able to come out on top.”
Coach Radcliffe is confident that his team can be unstoppable when playing with a chip on its shoulder, and he expects them to play that way in tonight’s game.
“I think this group of boys has something to prove and when they’re playing their best, there are not a lot of teams that can stop them,” Coach Radcliffe said. “We’ll see what happens when the lights come on.”