Dawg Day afternoon

Bearden soccer stuns FHS 3-2, in Murfreesboro for state

Caleb Wilkins might have been wounded. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t score the most important goal of the season for the Bearden High School boys soccer team.

Wilkins tallied the game-winning marker in Bearden’s 3-2 victory verses rival Farragut in a Section 1-AAA match Saturday, May 19, in Farragut Soccer Stadium.

“I pulled my groin a couple of weeks ago and I had really been hurting,” said Wilkins, who blasted a long-range header past Farragut goalkeeper Shayne Miller in the 73rd minute. “After we lost to Dobyns-Bennett (in the Region 1-AAA championship game), coach (Ryan Radcliffe) told me that I was going to play.”

Though Wilkins scored off a pass from Jackson Arnold, he wasn’t sure if he could convert.

“I barely got my head on it and I didn’t know if it had gone in,” said Wilkins, who fell on the play. “After I got up, I saw that everybody was yelling and pumped.

“This is a big rivalry game and it feels good to win this game

and go to state. This was a big win for us”

The game-winning marker culminated a comeback victory for the SoccerDawgs and sent Bearden to this week’s Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro. It also ended Farragut’s 2018 campaign. The Admirals finish the year with a 13-7-2 record after entering the match on a 10-game unbeaten streak.

Bearden and Farragut have a traditional rivalry, but recent re-alignment landed the longtime Kingston Pike rivals in different regions. So the boys squads played in the state sectional round for the first time in their storied histories.

With the victory, the Bulldogs (17-5-0) avenged a loss to the Admirals during the regular season — similar to the girls teams last fall, with BHS heading to state.

Radcliffe and his teams have had the upper hand since re-alignment, as Bearden has won postseason matches on the road.

But the coach didn’t appear all that thrilled about holding the edge in the playoffs.

“I’m not really sure if I like these games or not,” he said. “It’s always a chaotic game and we left a lot of shots out there. This is historic.

“It’s a rivalry game, so I don’t think that we’ll ever see a blowout, but we missed so many shots that I didn’t think the ball was ever going to go in for us.”

Bearden, which outshot the Admirals 13-9, scored its first goal when a Farragut defender inadvertently kicked the ball in the FHS net in the eighth minute.

Wes Jeter tied the game for the Admirals in the 22nd minute.

Farragut took the lead when Dillon Bihlmeyer tallied in the 58th minute.

The Bulldogs pulled even when Carter Turner scored about 11 minutes later, making it 2-2.

That set the stage for the injured Wilkins to be thrust into the role of hero for the Bulldogs.

Farragut head coach Ray Dover was frustrated after the loss.

“I’m really disappointed in the way the season ended, but I’m proud of the guys,” he said. “These guys have battled a lot of adversity.

“Midway through the season, we’re in a game and I look out there, and eight of the 11 starters were junior varsity players,” he added. “That was because we had so many injuries.

“Prior to this game, we had a 10-game unbeaten streak. But congrats to Bearden. They played well enough to win and they did.

“That’s just the way it goes.”