Senior girls take on leadership role for young BHS team

In the perennially competitive soccer culture in West Knoxville, many teams look to their seniors to lead their charge against the best the city has to offer. This year, however, Bearden’s girls soccer team does not have as deep a senior class as they have in years past. This gives each of the seniors added responsibility not only to perform on the field, but to set an example for the younger players. “You always want to be that leader out on the field,” senior Brennan Day said. “And especially since we have a lot of younger players, we want to be good role models.” With the kind of rigorous competition found in Knoxville, many of the younger players may feel the need to force the issue, and the Lady Bulldogs say that the seniors need to decrease this mentality. So far, the experienced players have gotten their message across, as Bearden (9-3-2, 3-1 District 4-AAA) sits second in the district behind only defending state runner-up Farragut. The Lady Bulldogs play Dobyns-Bennett at home Tuesday night at 7 with Coach Eric Turner looking for career win No. 500 (boys and girls combined). “[The seniors] encourage [the younger players] as much as they can, and just have to keep reminding them that it’s just a soccer game,” sophomore Ashley Seltzer said. “You have to just do what you can, and there’s nothing magical that can make you better.” But overall, the team sees a great deal of maturity from the younger players and a level of play greater than that of their age. “I’ve been really surprised at the maturity of the younger players, especially on the field,” Day said. “They’ve contributed a lot to our team.” The Bulldogs have seen some encouraging improvement as the season has progressed, especially concerning team chemistry. With so many newer players, the team needed some time to mesh the new with the experienced. "From the beginning of the year, we weren’t all working together, and we could tell,” senior Gabrielle Gianeselli said. “But now we can tell that we are confident with each other and that we have each others’ backs and that we’re more confident on the field.” This kind of trust is exactly what Bearden says they need in order to compete with the best of the best. “You have to get physically ready, you have to trust in your training,” Day said. “But for the mental part, you just have to believe in your team that you can actually beat them.” Aidan Sears is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook .