Undefeated state champs

Finishing 23-0-1, BHS Lady SoccerDawgs use Murphy headers to ‘corner’ market as AAA No. 1

  • he Bearden Lady SoccerDawgs pose with their 2021 TSSAA Class AAA gold-emblemed state title plaque. - Photos submitted

  • Brinley Murphy, left, joins teammate Andrea Adkins, in back, with “No. 1 fingers” after a 3-1 win versus Houston Saturday, Oct. 30. - Photos submitted

CHATTANOOGA — So accustomed to dominating even talented teams in the playoffs with iron-clad defense ending in shutouts — usually with big halftime leads — ”there was some panic” when unbeaten Bearden found itself tied at halftime with Houston, 1-1, in the Class AAA girls soccer state title match Saturday evening, Oct. 30, in the new CHI Memorial Stadium.

That was according to Brinley Murphy, BHS standout junior forward. In fact, “In my mind I was kind of freaking out ... It was the first goal we got scored on us in a while,” she added.

What did Murphy and her team do about it?

She responded to the pressure with the go-ahead score, her second header goal of the match, leading to a 3-1 state title victory, the third in program history (2006 and 2007) and first unbeaten season with a final 23-0-1 mark.

“The fever dream we’re living right now is just insane,” Murphy said. “... We weren’t going to leave the field with a loss.”

The Lady SoccerDawgs actually “cornered the market” in this game, with both Murphy headers scored on corner kicks: the first from Becca Roth’s placement in front of the net in the ninth minute, followed by the eventual game-winning goal on Alivia Stott’s corner in the 43rd minute.

“Me and Brinley have this amazing connection on corner kicks,” Roth said. “I just knew when I hit it, ‘that’s a perfect ball,’ that’s Brinley’s ball.’

“We’ve already broken many (program) records at Bearden this year (fewest goals allowed in a season at eight and most shutouts at 19), and we broke the drought of making it to the state finals,” she added.

The moment after her successful corner kick was struck, Stott said, “I knew someone was going to put it in the back of the net.

“This is so unreal because we’ve worked hard all year for this,” she added.

Breana Mendoza’s goal near the front of the net, off a nice diagonal pass from the right side from Andrea Adkins, provided the game-clinching goal in the 71st-minute.

“I think we really capitalized, and we deserve this,” said an emotional Alayna Corbitt, senior center fullback. “I’m so blessed, and I’m so happy for this team.”

“To come out with a undefeated record is unbelievable,” said Lady SoccerDawgs head coach Ryan Radcliffe, who won his fourth soccer state title at BHS (coaching boys, 2016 and 2019) and as a player (2006).