Midfield depth could be key to another state tournament run for Bearden soccer


BBN Staff

Bearden’s depth in midfield has already proven to be a big part of the Bulldogs’ early season success.

Bearden soccer has always been one of the elite programs in East Tennessee.

Consistently producing state tournament appearances, state championships, and high level players who often are able to play at the college level, Bearden’s sustained success often comes from its depth and experience. Behind a deep and talented midfield, this year’s group is looking to continue that success. 

“We knew coming into this year that one of our deepest positions would be in the midfield,” Coach Ryan Radcliffe said. “We are fortunate enough that we have a lot of players in there that have experience. 

“I think the biggest advantage it has given us is the fact that we have, unfortunately, had a lot of injuries early on this year, and we have been able to use that depth to rely on those players to fill the voids of some of those injuries. Both Dylan Kolnick and Julian Strickland have played valuable varsity minutes for us since their freshman year, so being able to rely on their experience and incorporate a mix of four or five other talented midfielders has been a huge asset for us this season. And I have to mention how great Logan Hunt has been for us early on as well.”

The Bulldogs return 13 seniors, eight of whom start.

“We have a lot of returning seniors and what plays into that is maturity in our team – guys being more comfortable on the field with what they’re doing,” said junior Lucas Nordin, who leads Bearden with 10 goals. “I think the main thing comes down to guys being more experienced and calm in certain situations.”

The Bulldogs are coming off the annual Bearden Invitational where they defeated Oak Ridge 4-0, Gallatin 3-0, and drew with Hendersonville 2-2. 

They open up district play Thursday night at Farragut with the game starting at 7:30.

Nordin has had a fast start to the season also after he battled a nagging hamstring injury a good part of last season.

While the midfield has been a huge strong suit, the team as a whole is solid all the way around.

“I think some of our other strengths have been our depth in the defense and then a healthy Lucas Nordin this year,” Coach Radcliffe said. “We have a lot of senior and junior leadership in the back with Rudy Dardon, Cole Hutchison, Cody Coover, Ashton Moss, Christian Moss, and Luke Wilkins. 

“All of those guys are experienced and upperclassmen that are doing a great job of holding each other accountable and demanding to not give up opportunities for the other team. And Lucas Nordin is having a great start to his junior campaign. He is really determined to make an earlier and more immediate impact for us this season, and he has shown that with his goals he has been putting in for us.” 

Added Strickland: “Our forwards have proven that they can score a lot of goals, and our defense is just as solid as last year.”

As always, Coach Radcliffe has created a tough non-district schedule, and the Bulldogs have returned to the same district as Maryville, Hardin Valley, and Farragut.

“I tried to be as impactful as I could with our scheduling, especially early on this season,” Coach Radcliffe said. “This is our first year in a while having three of our biggest rivals in the same district as us. Not only are those going to be rival games, but there will be a lot of impact on district standings as well. 

“We know as a team that if we want to make a deep run into the postseason, we have to take priority in our district first. I have challenged the boys early on with some really emotional and competitive matches with not only some of the top teams in the state, but the country as well. I wanted to try and give them those tests early to hopefully better prepare ourselves for the competitiveness that we will see in district play.”