Lady Bulldogs set for second showdown with Houston in state championship game


Bradynn Belcher

Jordan Hellman, who scored one of the goals in Bearden’s 2-0 semifinal win, carries in midfield in a game earlier this season.

The Bearden girls soccer team is back in the state final and looking for its first title since back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007.

The Lady Bulldogs will play Houston at 4 p.m. on Saturday in a rematch of a game Bearden won 2-1 earlier this season.

They punched their ticket to state with a dominant 9-0 mercy rule win over Jefferson County in sub-state and had a huge win in a quarterfinal to advance against Nolensville 5-0. Bearden then beat Collierville 2-0 in a state semifinal on Thursday with goals from Jordan Hellman and Brinley Murphy.

The Lady Bulldog defense has been stout all season. They’ve set a program record with 18 clean sheets and have only allowed seven goals all year.

The program record for goals allowed in a season is 12.

“They have been incredible this year and have truly set a new standard of defensive statistics in Bearden history,” Coach Ryan Radcliffe said. “I think they pride themselves in not giving up opportunities and collectively as a team, when you have that identity of not allowing other teams to score on you, it makes winning games and staying in games that much easier.

“Knowing that our defense and our goalkeeper are playing as stout as they are, it’s helping our forwards and front runners know that they just have to put in one of their opportunities and we put ourselves in a great position to win.”

Leading the defense this year is an experienced backline that includes three seniors: Marlee Biggs, Alayna Corbitt, and Harlie Howard.

“The experience that our back line has is definitely part of our success,” Biggs said. “We have a lot of chemistry playing together and that helps us tremendously because we all know our individual strengths and weaknesses.”

Added keeper Peyton Huber: “My defenders and I have an amazing relationship and strong connection; we know what needs to happen with just yelling their name. The seniors definitely have a big impact on the defensive line because they have been working together since they were little. 

“I am incredibly grateful to be able to be a part of a team that is so close.”

The Lady Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in the nation according to the United Soccer Coach Association, and their momentum and confidence is at an all-time high.

“Momentum is huge for us,” Coach Radcliffe said. “I think that we are on a good streak of scoring goals and seeing the ball hit the back of the net so hopefully we can continue that through the state tournament.”

The Lady Bulldogs have been to four of the past five state tournaments, but this is their first final during that stretch.

“My hope is that this group takes that challenge, wants to surpass last year’s team, and establish themselves as one of the best teams to ever play at Bearden,” Coach Radcliffe said.