By Logan Mize
The football team beat Farragut for the first time since 2012.
The dance team repeated as state champions and pulled off a double national title in Florida.
The boys basketball team won its first ever state title and the Arby’s Classic Tournament.
Now, to top off what has been arguably the most illustrious year in all of Bearden sports history, the boys soccer team has won its fifth state title and second in four years.
The Bulldogs beat two-time defending champion Station Camp in the state final Friday courtesy of a 4-3 advantage in a penalty shootout after 110 minutes had elapsed with the teams still level at 1-1.
Last season, the Bison eliminated Bearden in a semi-final, going on to win the 2018 state title. The Bulldogs also beat Station Camp in a semi-final during their 2016 championship run.
In the first two rounds of the state tournament, Bearden had beaten Oakland 4-0 before handing Brentwood its first loss of the season thanks to an extra time free kick goal from senior Collin Lewis. The Bulldogs then were set to resume their unfinished business with the Bison.
Coach Ryan Radcliffe, who has now been involved in three of Bearden’s five state titles as either a player or a coach, anticipated that it would be a close game and a showdown of who would show up when it mattered most.
Junior goalkeeper Holden Giesecke did just that. Giesecke has made huge saves down the stretch all season to keep the Bulldogs’ state title hopes alive, helping Bearden win title number five in the most memorable way possible. With the shootout tied 1-1, Giesecke saved the second Station Camp attempt to give the Bulldogs an advantage they would not relinquish.
All four of Bearden’s penalty takers – Caleb Wilkins, Lewis, Carter Turner, and Finn Harris – converted, and Station Camp’s fifth and final kick caromed off the crossbar to send the Bearden players into a mad dash toward Giesecke.
“Going into PKs, I think they had a lot of confidence in Holden,” Coach Radcliffe said. “He was as confident as can be.
“I told him, ‘If you make one save, we’ll win it for you,’ and he did.”
Added Giesecke: “Honestly, I thought [the last penalty] went in at first. Then I heard the dink and was like ‘Wow, we just won this.’”
The game was physical and defensive until Wilkins opened the scoring late in the first half. Wilkins was alert to intercept a quick free quick from Station Camp, and Lewis played in his fellow senior who coolly finished.
With twenty six minutes remaining in the game, Bearden had a chance to potentially ice the game with a penalty after a handball was called on Station Camp in the box. However, Lewis’s attempt hit the crossbar.
Station Camp tied the match 1-1 with a goal after a corner in the sixty-fifth minute. Both teams had chances in extra time, but neither could convert, sending the game to the shootout.
“We felt nervous but confident because every day we practice PKs,” Wilkins said. “Our PK spot at home is messed up because we practice them so much.”
With this year’s seniors winning state as freshmen in 2016, it seemed like the storybook ending for them to finish their career as Bulldogs with another state title win.
“It’s just what we’ve been working for since we lost to Station Camp a year ago,” Wilkins said. “It was just the moment that we finally made it.”