After last season’s success, the Bearden Lady Soccer Dogs have high hopes going into the new season and are looking to prove themselves once again.
“I always expect big things, especially from these girls,” Coach Ryan Radcliffe said. “Last year was first time the girls have been to state in a while, and so I think it’s engrained in their heads and their minds that anything less than advancing further in Murfreesboro would be a disappointment this year.”
The Lady Bulldogs shocked Farragut on the road 2-0 last October to eliminate their rival and move on to their first state tournament since 2011. Bearden dropped its first match in Murfreesboro to Brentwood 1-0.
But last year’s team had many experienced seniors, so this young team turns to captains Emily Carlevato, Abby McCord and Abby Brewer for direction.
Coach Radcliffe sets his expectations high for Carlevato in the coming season.
“Emily Carlevato is going to be big this year,” Coach Radcliffe said. “She’s been starting since she was a freshman, and this year she is a captain.
“Obviously we’re going to rely a lot on her.”
Despite getting much of the media attention, Carlevato doesn’t miss the opportunity to give credit to her teammates.
“I think that everyone on the team has an opportunity to be a leader,” Carlevato said. “It doesn’t always matter who the captain is as long as you’re able to step up and be an example.”
Carlevato’s strength in her leadership role is felt widely among the team.
“Emily is definitely our leader,” said Brewer, who scored both goals in Bearden’s 2-0 win over Hardin Valley in the season opener.
“She is the one to push us, especially when we are losing – we can always count on Emily to be super vocal on the field.”
The girls know they have a long way to come in order to be prepared for their ambitious goals, but they are more than willing to put in the work.
“In preseason at first, it seemed like we weren’t playing well together,” Carlevato said. “But I think as the season progresses and the more we get to play together, we’ll get more comfortable with each other and have a lot of success.”
The Lady Bulldogs will host West on Monday night at 7 for their home opener.
Despite so many new faces on the field, Coach Radcliffe believes that this year’s freshman class is one of the most athletically inclined that he has ever had.
“This will be one of our deepest freshman classes and probably one of the most talented freshman classes we’ve had,” Coach Radcliffe said. “If I had to compare this class to a previous one, I’d say that they are very similar to last year’s senior class.”
As the season approaches, Coach Radcliffe knows the competition will be not be easy.
“People love to come in and compete and try to beat us,” Coach Radcliffe said. “We’re going to be everyone’s best game as the only team out of Knoxville last year that made it to Murfreesboro.”
As the season begins, Carlevato hopes her younger teammates learn to enjoy every minute on the field.
“I want them to realize how big of a deal and what a privilege it is to play for Bearden Soccer,” Carlevato said. “I want them to realize and appreciate what they’re getting to experience and how fast it will go by.”