The Bearden girls soccer team is headed back to the state tournament and will play McMinn County in the first round at 5 p.m. Eastern on Friday.
One of the biggest advantages for the team this year is the Lady Bulldogs have a variety of goal scorers and a wide range of ways to create scoring opportunities.
“There aren’t one or two specific individuals on our team that opponents can game plan for to try and take us out of games,” Coach Ryan Radcliffe said. “We take a lot of pride in the fact that in any given game, there can be multiple girls to step up and put the ball in the net for us. “
The Lady Soccer Dogs’ confidence is at an all time high after advancing to the state tournament after a 3-1 victory over rival Farragut in the sectionals.
“Beating Farragut to get to state gave us even more confidence in our team, especially since we had lost in the Sub-state game the previous year,” senior Zneyah McLaughlin said. “Coming off a win makes us want to have that feeling again, changing our game for the better.”
Inclement weather caused the state tournament to be delayed from its usual start on Wednesday. Each quarterfinal will be Friday, the two semifinals on Saturday, with the final set for 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Monday.
This has given the team a little more time than anticipated to prepare for the tournament.
This senior class has been to the state tournament three times while at Bearden: 2017, 2018, and 2020. This time, they want to come back with a state championship.
“It would mean everything,” McLaughlin said. “All of us have dedicated so much time and effort to just get to state, and we are so excited to be there, but that’s not all we are hoping for. We want a ring and we want that trophy.”
Sophomore Brinley Murphy, whose two goals against the Lady Admirals helped propel Bearden to Murfreesboro, said the leadership and experience of the senior class is definitely a motivator.
“Winning state would be incredible, especially for our seniors,” she said. “I think we all wanna go out there and do it for them.”
If Bearden gets past McMinn County on Friday, the Lady Bulldogs play the winner of Franklin and Collierville on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. National power Houston, who has won four of the past seven state titles, is on the other side of the bracket, meaning Bearden would not see the undefeated Mustangs before the championship game Monday.
“My message has been simple to the girls, and that is that I am packing my bags to stay in Murfreesboro for four days,” Coach Radcliffe said, “and I hope they are too.”