Making 16th state appearance, SoccerDogs seek 6th state title

KNOXVILLE — Earning the program’s 16th appearance in the TSSAA state tournament, Bearden High School’s boys soccer team defeated Johnson City Science Hill 4-1 in the Sectional round of the TSSAA Class 4A tournament Saturday, May 21, at BHS’s Turner-Allender Field.

The Bulldogs (19-1-3) played Franklin (10-4-3) in a quarterfinal match of the state tournament at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro Tuesday, May 24 (after deadline).

“We’re relieved, excited,” said BHS head coach Ryan Radcliffe, who is looking for his third state crown as a coach (2016, 2019) and sixth as a program, which includes him helping to win one as a former Bulldogs standout player (2006).

Bearden led 2-1 at half behind goals by Rudy Dardon in the fifth minute and Lucas Nordin in the 30th. “It was a corner kick,” Dardon, a senior centerback, said. “I was lucky to be there at the spot and just hit it in.”

In a two-minute span in the second half, starting in the 65th minute, the Bulldogs put the match away with goals from senior forward Cooper Cross and Max Ewing. Cross’ goal was assisted by Jack Raulston. “I’m on the back post and I’m running in toward the goal,” Cross said. “I’m just charging in on the back and he (Ralston) puts me over on the back post.”

“... We can be direct, we can use our speed and physicality, but I like to think we can move the ball with the best of them,” Radcliffe said.

Bulldogs thinks just winning Bearden’s district and region will position his boys well in Murfreesboro. He said the Hilltoppers were worthy of the final eight.