Missing pieces, setbacks overcome by Bearden, in a big way, vs. Notre Dame

  • Bearden junior Lucas Ford (11) manages to stay on his feet in pursuit of the ball, unlike these two Notre Dame players, during this BHS Invitational game at Turner-Allender Field/Radcliffe-Kelly Soccer Complex Saturday evening, March 23. The SoccerDawgs won easily 4-1. - Photos by Alan Sloan

  • Bearden senior Omar Hewezi battles an NDHS player for possession as teammates Preston Ford, left in back, a junior, and senior Jack Tirgrath, right, react. - Photos by Alan Sloan

BEARDEN — You wouldn’t have known Bearden boys soccer actually had a 1-2 record, based on the SoccerDawgs’ dominance versus Chattanooga Notre Dame in its second BHS Invitational match, this one on Turner-Allender Field at the Radcliffe-Kelly Soccer Complex Saturday evening, March 23.

Such dominance was quite evident despite missing what might be the team’s top scoring threat, senior Jack Raulston, while losing promising junior Daniel Kinney to a season-ending ACL tear and missing yet another key Dawg, returning defender Shepard McMurray, due to injury — and supposedly rebuilding its offensive attack after heavy 2023 graduation losses.

In fact, “Counting off the top off my head, I think only three players that played valuable varsity minutes (in 2023) were out there on the field for us tonight,” SoccerDawgs head coach Ryan Radcliffe said after his team’s 4-1 win against the Fighting Irish.

Two goals by senior Dillon Sims, the first one a penalty kick less than three minutes into the match, to go with one from about 15 yards out to cap the second-half scoring, led the way. Goals also came from junior Jashua

Garcia from about 15 yards, and a roughly 10-yard header goal from junior Cole Stopka.

Assisting on two of the goals was junior Lucas Ford. “I thought both of the Ford twins, (juniors Preston and Lucas), played well,” Radcliffe said. “How many times (did Lucas) really drive at the back line in that first half; that’s a kid that didn’t get a single varsity minute last year. Then obviously Dillon, who was out all last season, is a big piece to our puzzle going forward.

“I thought Nic Prins was great for us the last couple

of games,” he added about

the senior defender. “He’s

one of our few returning


As for challenges, “Some of that’s due to injury,” Radcliffe said. “And we’ve got a lot of juniors that just haven’t had a lot of experience. That’s why we’re going through learning curves, but we’re not necessarily that young.”

Raulston, a standout attacking midfielder, was “out with a red card suspension, but he’ll be back,” the coach said.