Lady Bulldog midfielders ready for two crucial district matches

Tyler Hotz, Staff Writer

With a new coach, some changes in play can only be expected, and this is certainly the case for the Bearden girls soccer team’s midfield.

Head coach Ryan Radcliffe started the season with a new scheme and style. For his style to function properly, he knew that the midfield would be a major key to success.

“I always call the midfield the glue because the midfield has to be three girls that work hard and win the ball for you,” Coach Radcliffe said.

The glue for the Lady Bulldogs consists of sophomore Clairity Voy, junior Emily Mayfield, and senior captain Alexa Saravi. The trio has mixed together well, and the chemistry keeps on building.

Now they’re getting ready for the most important pair of games this season. The Lady Bulldogs host archrival Farragut on Thursday at 7 p.m. (TV:, and they also play Hardin Valley at home Tuesday night at 7.

“We’re all really good friends and have played with each other for two years now,” Voy said.

Added Saravi: “We have had a lot more experience with each other. I feel as though we work together more and the three of us are so close.”

This season, Coach Radcliffe wants to incorporate his knowledge from his high school playing days at Bearden and also from his experiences as a player at Maryville College.

Stemming from former Bearden coach Eric Turner, Coach Radcliffe has continued the tradition of being attack oriented. In contrast, the team this season has a different formation that has three central midfielders.

“We’ve added a player into the midfield which will help us attack more because last season the two midfielders would combine to go up and go back and help on defense,” Mayfield said. “Now it is easier to have a person up and back the whole time.”

Last year’s team focused more on playing long balls, but this year, the team looks to  combine through the midfield more and play the ball up to the forwards.

The new system may seem like a learning curve for the midfield; however, the style this season fits more into how the girls play in club soccer. All three play some form of club soccer and feel even more comfortable this season than in previous years.

Bearden has already recorded two commanding victories this week, scoring a combined 21 goals in district wins over William Blount and Lenoir City. Farragut has also won their last two games, and Bearden will need to play well to defeat the Lady Admirals.

Bearden and Farragut are in a battle with Hardin Valley for the second seed in the District 4-AAA tournament behind Maryville. The Lady Bulldogs are looking for their first win over the Lady Admirals since 2010.

“We all need play as one and work off each other,” Saravi said. “All [three] of us need to act as a wall in the middle going up and down the field.”

Even with a system that drives the team, Coach Radcliffe does not want to overexert his beliefs into his players. He knows their strengths and weaknesses but also sees when and where his style can make the greatest impact.

“I try to incorporate my style, but I also want it to be a players’ game because that’s what it should be,” Radcliffe said. “The three in the midfield are very smart, and that’s why I chose to play the system.

“I have three forwards that can score goals, and three midfielders that I can trust.”