‘Frustration speech’ helps Bearden hand FHS first soccer loss

KNOXVILLE — For the first time this season, the Bearden High School girls soccer team was able to use its locker room. The facility was opened before the Lady Bulldogs had their annual meeting against Farragut.

But the room, which had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wasn’t a very pleasant place to be at halftime of the match between the two Kingston Pike rivals.

Bearden head coach Ryan Radcliffe had to stir up his team a bit at the break, despite holding 2-1 lead, and it seemed to work: the Lady Bulldogs won 3-1 Thursday evening, Sept. 17, at BHS’s Turner-Allender Field.

He took select players into the room at the half for a pep talk.

“It was the first time we’ve gone in our locker room this year and I only took a few of them,” Radcliffe said. “I gave them a frustration speech.

“I had to give them some pump-up music, I guess you could say,” he added.

Though scoring just one second-half goal, the players seemed to respond to the speech by outshooting Farragut 10-0 during the final 40 minutes.

An unexpected rain shower morphed into a downpour midway through the first half with Bearden leading 1-0. The Lady Bulldogs (8-1) didn’t handle the rain well according to their coach.

“I was frustrated,” Radcliffe said. “I felt like it started raining on us and we shut down and quit playing, just because it was a little bit of rain and we let too much of who we were playing determine how we were going to play that first half.”

The Lady Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead when sophomore midfielder Becca Roth fired a shot past Farragut goalkeeper Caroline Ekern in the fourth minute.

It was Roth’s second game in the Bearden-Farragut rivalry, “I love the rivalry, just the spirit that goes on between the teams,” she said. “It just brings the competitive spirit out of me, out of my teammates.

“It makes me better in my opinion,” she added.

The Lady Admirals (7-1-2) pulled even when Annabelle Ekern scored the equalizer in the 34th minute when she took a cross from Lexie Foley and buried it in the back of the Bearden net.

Roth helped the Lady Bulldogs regain the lead in the 38th minute when she scored off an assist from forward and fellow sophomore Brinley Murphy.

Bearden outshot the Lady Ads 6-3 over the first 40 minutes of the match, but Radcliffe didn’t like what he saw late in the half.

The Lady Bulldogs extended their advantage to 3-1 when first-year senior Hali Parker tallied in the 65th minute.

Radcliffe was disappointed Bearden didn’t finish more of its chances.

“The second half I thought we played better, but I thought we left too many chances,” he said. “Their keeper is a great keeper and we made her look even better.”

For the Lady Ads, it was the second rivalry match of the week — and both were on the road.

They played at Hardin Valley Academy Tuesday, Sept. 15, and salvaged a 2-2 draw in a key District 4-AAA game.

“That was a big tie for us because we were down 2-0,” FHS first-year head coach Kristen Lyons said of the match against the Lady Hawks. (See photo and caption below)

Even in defeat against Bearden, Lyons, who was in her first Bearden-Farragut game, was pleased with the Lady Admirals’ effort.

“We do not go away without fighting, and yet again, we had another good battle, she said. “They didn’t disappoint me with their efforts.

“Technically we were a little on the weaker side because we couldn’t string a lot of passes together. But we have so much fight in us.”

Like Roth, Lyons loves the rivalry.

“I tell you what, this is high school soccer to a tee,” Lyons said. “I love the rivalry.

“I love the banter from the sidelines. The girls respectfully played each other. They knew what it meant to each team, and it’s just fun to watch.”