Dawgs rally ends FHS streak

KNOXVILLE ­— Streaks are made to be broken and a late rally helped Bearden High School’s boys soccer team snap a long losing streak to its most heated rival.

The defending Class AAA state champion Bulldogs scored three goals over the final 19 minutes to notch a 3-2 District 4-AAA victory over Farragut Friday night, April 21, before a packed house at BHS’s Bruce Allender Field.

“I was really proud of the boys for coming back after they were down,” Bearden head coach Ryan Radcliffe said after watching his squad beat the Admirals [11-4-1 overall, 4-2 in district after the loss] for the first time since 2012. “That says a lot about their character and it says a lot about our senior class.

“They’re not only great players. They’re a great bunch of guys.”

The Bulldogs [9-1, 4-1 after the win] scored the game-winning goal when Caleb Wilkins got a shot past Farragut goalkeeper Brandon Keane with 6 minutes, 52 seconds remaining.

While the win was obviously big, it also was a historic night for the BHS soccer program.

At halftime, the school christened the stadium The Radcliffe-Kelly Soccer Complex in honor of the Radcliffe family and Jim Kelly.

In addition to coach Radcliffe [who has won a state title as both a player and coach at the school], Derick Radcliffe [Ryan’s older brother who starred at BHS], Linda Radcliffe [Ryan’s mother, a longtime assistant coach under Eric Turner who now serves as the team manager] and Rick Radcliffe, Ryan’s father [who has maintained the field since it opened and has spent two decades working in the program] were honored along with Kelly.

Kelly was the driving force in making Bruce Allender Field the home of the SoccerDawgs.

Coach Radcliffe, with his team trailing 1-0, was modest about the halftime ceremony and the family being honored.

“I didn’t want this,” Ryan said. “I knew that there was talk of naming this ... and I didn’t really want any part of this.”

Early, it looked as though the streak of futility against the Admirals would continue.

Bearden, after missing an early scoring chance, was lethargic throughout much of the first half. Wilkins hit the ball off the post in the third minute.

Farragut, which controlled the tempo after that, took a 1-0 lead when Wes Jeter scored in the 12th minute. Zach Shopovick picked up an assist.

The Ads extended their advantage to 2-0 just after halftime when Nathan Miller tallied, unassisted, in the 41st minute.

The Bulldogs got on the board when Will Lewis, a senior, made it 2-1 in the 62nd minute.

Connor Cross scored the equalizer in the 73rd minute.

“We hadn’t beaten them in a long time. Last year, they beat us and after that, we turned our season around and we won the state,” Lewis said. “This senior class had never beaten them and this is a big weight off our shoulders.

“I wouldn’t say that there’s really what you would call pressure, but this is a game that you have circled on your calendar every year,” he added

The loss stunned the Admirals.

“After we got up 2-0, we went away from our game plan,” Jeter said. “We got the lead and we didn’t move the ball well. We didn’t play well with the lead.”

Farragut head coach Ray Dover took the blame for losing.

“This is on me,” he said. “Now, we can’t win the regular-season [district] championship and we’ll have to see them again over here in a knockout game [in the district tournament].”