“I just started dribbling and I saw their keeper on the other side of the net,” said Herrera, a junior forward who scored the first marker in the Admirals 2-0 non-district victory over the Bulldogs before a spirited crowd at Farragut Soccer Stadium. “It was just like the goal I scored against them last year (in the District 4-AAA Semifinals).
“It was the same place on the field.”
Herrera’s tournament goal represented all the offense of that match. But on this night, he and his teammates would get insurance.
On Friday night, Herrera’s tally broke a scoreless tie. It came in the 58th minute after the two Kingston Pike rivals slugged through a first half where offensive chances came at a premium.
“It always feels good to beat Bearden,” Herrera said. “I’m sure that we’ll probably see them again (in a state sectional game where the winner will advance to the Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro).
“That game will be ‘win or go home,’ just like last year (in the district tournament semis).”
A rivalry match always is intense and the Admirals (8-5-1) had some much-needed time off. Farragut, however, will return to action tonight (Thursday, April 26) when it travels to Maryville for its District 4-AAA regular-season finale against the Rebels.
The winner will lock up the regular-season title and a first-round bye in the postseason tournament. Opening kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at John Sevier Elementary School in Blount County.
Herrera said the rest will be big for FHS. “This was a big win for us tonight but we’ll have another big game when we play Maryville,” he said.
“But we’ll have some time to recover and that’s important because we had some guys cramping up.”
Farragut has been bitten by the injury bug this season, but the Admirals, who took a 2-0 lead when Eliezer Milan scored in the 64th minute, are starting to get healthy. Head coach Ray Dover called Friday night’s win a coach’s dream.
“This is a good scenario for a coach. You win the game but you realize that you still have some work to do,” he said. “This was not the perfect game for us. We won.
“But we still have a lot of things to work on. We both had opportunities, but I’m sure that if you ask either coach, they would say that this wasn’t their best match. At least, that’s the way it is from our perspective.”
The Bulldogs (9-3) also had their share of chances. Farragut outshot Bearden, 10-7 but the Bulldogs missed a pair of golden opportunities to get on the scoreboard after halftime.
Collin Lewis had a shot hit the post in the 66th minute before Everett Houser blasted the ball over the net in the 76th minute.
Both goalkeepers bailed out their teams. Shayne Miller of the Admirals stopped every quality shot he faced. Bearden’s Holden Giesecke made five saves.
Bulldogs head coach Ryan Radcliffe said his team struggled as it failed to convert scoring opportunities into goals.
“I told the guys before the game that in a game like this, both teams will get an equal number of opportunities and we did,” Radcliffe said. “The difference is who’s going to finish.
“They finished their chances and we didn’t. We have a young team and we just have to learn how to win big games. The atmosphere got to us a little bit. You had eight new faces who have never played in this game before.”