Lady Bulldogs unbeaten to start season, looking to top last year’s state semifinal appearance


Senior Harlie Howard carries the ball in a game against Farragut in 2019.

The Bearden girls soccer team has started the 2021 season with high expectations, as they are nationally ranked 10th in the country by Prep Soccer.

They also return a strong core from last year’s team as they look to build on their state semifinal appearance from a year ago.

“We have a big returning group that knows what it takes to make it that far and the mindset of how we approach both practices and games to get to the point we want to be at,” Coach Ryan Radcliffe said.

Bearden will look to maintain its perfect record at Greenville on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Lady Bulldogs started off the regular season strong by defeating Science Hill 2-0 last week with goals from junior Brinley Murphy and senior Sarah Altshuler.

With all of the returning players, the chemistry the players have with each other will be a strong suit for the team this year as many of the players have played together throughout high school and for some on club teams.

“Our core returning players have played with each other for many years, so we all know how each other plays, which helps us connect and move the ball around,” senior Alayna Corbitt said. “All of the returners know what it’s like to make it that far and not get the results we wanted which allows us to be more driven and focused this year.”

Within that core of players is this year’s senior class which features nine starters and is one of the biggest and more tight knit groups in recent memory.

“This is one of the largest senior classes that I have ever had coaching,” Coach Radcliffe said. “They are a unique senior class in that they are best friends and a class that has grown up and played together since they were very young.

“This will hopefully translate into a lot of chemistry and success on the field. … There is a lot of responsibility on this group, but they have taken on their new roles tremendously. There will be a lot of voices and a lot of younger players looking up to them and it is their responsibility to make sure they do whatever it takes to get us to our final destination.”

The younger members of the team have responded well to their leadership. They are all more motivated to work hard and play for each other because of the leadership by the seniors and with that every senior is a team captain on this year’s team.

“Their leadership is so outstanding that they are all the captains of the team and each one of them lead us every practice and game, making sure we’re going our best,” Murphy said.

The Lady Bulldogs went 21-2 last year with a loss in the state semifinals to Franklin, a team they beat in a 4-3 thriller at the Meet in the Middle tournament in Murfreesboro this weekend.

To build on last year and break through to a state championship, this year’s team has to have a different mindset than in years past.

“There needs to be a different mentality and approach each game knowing that we have a big target on our backs,” Coach Radcliffe said. “We have a lot of depth and a lot of talent, but this team still needs to find a way to build on last season and surpass what has happened in years past.

“It is their time to make a new legacy for themselves.”