Bearden soccer has posted clean sheets in four of its first five games this season, only allowing their first goal of the season Thursday night in their 5-1 win over Giles County to kick off the Bearden Invitational.
After losing three starters on the back line and their primary goal keeper last season, Bearden had to have new players step into the defensive roles, and they’ve done just that in the Lady Bulldogs’ 5-0 start to the season.
Although this was a change for the team, Coach Ryan Radcliffe believes that the new starters have gotten experience over their years.
“The good thing about them is they’re all returning players,” Coach Radcliffe said. “It’s nobody new to our system so to speak.
“They’ve kind of been waiting their turn.”
Senior Abby McCord is Bearden’s only returning defensive starter, and she’ll look to be a leader for her new defense.
“Last year, I was grateful to be surrounded by seniors who really helped me in the back,” McCord said. “This year, I have to step up and be the leader in the defense.”
Keeper Maggie Jones also brings experience despite being a new full-time starter this year. Jones shared goalkeeping duties with Abby Mink a year ago.
The team will face a big challenge Friday night when they take on reigning national champion Houston (5-0) who has not lost a game in almost two years.
“You can go out and try to prevent them from scoring the whole time or you can play your game and see what happens,” Coach Radcliffe said. “We’re not going to try to come out and play anything differently from our style.
“We’re going to play them straight up, and we’re going to see what happens.”
Junior Blythe Lundberg has been another integral piece to the defense, and the first-year starter credits the back line’s chemistry for their success so far.
“A lot of the defensive line is talking,” Lundberg said. “If you don’t have good relationships, you’re not going to talk on the field, so it’s important that all of us are close friends which we are.
“It just makes it a lot easier talking to them.”