Radcliffe’s 3rd pk happy ending: ‘no goals allowed’ BHS wins state

Nelson MVP in three shutouts, critical pk stop, clinching tally

MURFREESBORO — It wasn’t enough that Logan Nelson stopped a Ravenwood penalty kick that opened the door for his Bearden SoccerDawgs to be one more successful pk from the program’s sixth TSSAA state crown.

Nelson also stepped up to boot home the championship-winning pk, then was repeatedly “attacked” in joy by numerous elated teammates in the 5-3 pk win after 100 scoreless minutes versus state power Ravenwood (18-3-4) in Richard Siegel Soccer Complex Stadium Friday afternoon, May 24.

“I wanted it,” Nelson, Division I Class AAA state title game MVP, said about taking the clinching kick.

As for the critical pk stop on the Raptors’ fourth try, “I knew in my mind where the kids have gone from past pk shootouts,” the junior keeper said. “But for that pk, I was like, ‘I knew he was going that way.’ So as soon as I did, I dove that way (to his left), saved it, and then I got up for that pk, for the one that I had to take. I knew I just had to put it in the back of the net.

“It’s a fairytale ending,” he added. “There’s not much more I could ask for. These are nights that you dream about. Saving a pk and then going up and finishing out the game as a goalkeeper, you don’t see that a lot, so it’s perfect.”

“He just seems to have a knack,” BHS head coach Ryan Radcliffe said of Nelson. “Of course, that’s probably just being a great goalkeeper.

“He’s confident; he’s got that mentality that he can do whatever he puts his mind to,” the coach added. “I’ve had a lot of fantastic keepers in my career here. I’ve been blessed with great keeper coaches. But I’ve never had a keeper that is determined and confident like that kid over there.”

Other Bearden pk tallies came from seniors Jack Raulston and Dillon Sims plus junior Noah Price and senior James Lee, as the state champions end 2024 at 21-3-1.

“I guess right now we’re in a habit of winning state championships on pks on this field,” Radcliffe said. “I did it as a player in 2006, and in 2019 we did it. And now (five) years later, we did it again. But it’s not a coach’s preference.

“What else can you say about this group and the way that they battled, and especially the way Logan stepped up there.” he added. “I mean, what a fairy tale ending to save the (fourth) pk and then score the winning pk. It gives credit to a kid that pulled saves out of nowhere there late and then in overtime. What an ending.”

The one time Nelson wasn’t in front of the net during a scoring chance, teammate and junior defender Cole Stopka stopped a certain Raptors goal on the right side of the net in the eighth minute.

“My defense has been saving me whenever I screw up or whenever I’m out of position,” Nelson said. “We know we have a lot of chemistry between each other. There’s a lot of love between each other, too. We’re a brotherhood back there.”

“I mean, it’s awesome,” said Raulston, a senior midfielder and team captain. “Our mentality was really high coming in this game because of Wednesday’s game against Hendersonville (1-0 win).

“We came out flying, and we knew we had to do that today. Everyone wanted it, not only the starters, but one through 42,” he added. “The bench was in it. Everyone was in it, and that’s really what helped us get to win.”

“It all started with Logan Nelson holding us in the back line,” Sims, a forward, said. “Our defense was awesome. Didn’t let in a whole goal all state tournament.

“And then Logan’s just outstanding. I love that dude. He saved us,” he added.

“It started with our goalie. Logan saved us so many times,” senior defender Nic Prins said. “ ... We’ve waited four years for this, and we left everything out on the field, and it feels so good to win, man. So good. So many finals we’ve been through, and we’ve lost. But this one is different.

“This one we won because we wanted it more.”