Bearden advances to region final with 4-2 win over HVA

Bearden’s Lady Soccer Dogs rebounded from Thursday’s loss to rival Farragut in the district final with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night that eliminated Hardin Valley from the playoffs. The Lady Bulldogs will now face Farragut for the third time this season in the region finals on Thursday. It is not an elimination game. The Bulldogs jumped out early Tuesday against the Lady Hawks with goals by juniors Brennan Day and Gabrielle Gianeselli in the 4th and 13th minutes, respectively. In a game reminiscent of Thursday’s 5-2 loss at Farragut, the team that got the early lead was able to keep their opponent at arm’s length. This time, though, it was the Bulldogs who got to enjoy the early two-goal cushion. “We came out and we got two goals early, then it settled in,” Bearden Coach Eric Turner said. “You can’t chase a game at this level.” Added HVA Coach Mike McLean: “We didn’t get going early.” This didn’t stop the Lady Hawks from fighting hard to save their season, of course. After a Jessica Logan header early in the second half put the Bulldogs up 3-0, the Hawks rallied with two goals in nine minutes to narrow the margin to 3-2 with five minutes left in the match. “We showed character at the end,” Coach McLean said. “It just wasn’t meant to be tonight.” A second Gianeselli goal with 2:04 left in the game sealed Bearden’s place in the region final. “It felt awesome,” Gianeselli said. The last two minutes of playoff games are only kept by the official, so they can often drag on for three or four. As a football team would kneel on the ball, the Lady Soccer Dogs simply took the ball to the corner, put in on the sideline, and boxed out Hardin Valley intruders. “Today we battled, and that is what I was happy about,” Coach Turner said. “We’re happy about (the win).” Bearden will now shift its focus to another game on the road at Farragut. The Lady Admirals have won the two other meetings this year by a combined score of 8-3. “I expect our girls to go in there and battle,” Coach Turner said. “We’re going to have to go in there and play our best.” Something has to change in their attitude and style if they hope to reverse last Thursday’s result. “I think we have to come out stronger and more aggressive,” Gianeselli said. Added Day: “I’m excited. I want to prove to them that we can actually beat them and that we are actually better than them.” If the Lady Bulldogs beat Farragut, they will host a state sectional on Saturday. If they lose, they will have to travel. The winners of the eight sectionals qualify for the state tournament.