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BHS ‘fishing’ pays off

CHATTANOOGA — While stealing one page from Farragut baseball and another page from Christian Academy of Knoxville soccer, the Bearden Lady SoccerDawgs whipped the state’s three highest-ranked teams during the Class AAA state tournament.

Add a page about defense and converted set plays and the end result was a state title — the first for Bearden’s girls program — following a 1-0 victory against 2005 state champ Collierville in the title game Saturday evening, Nov. 4, at Girls Preparatory School.

Jenni Gordon’s header goal from two yards out off an Alex Meehan corner kick was the difference, coming with only 1:16 left in the first half.

“I knew as soon as we got that first goal that we could hold it down in the middle,” Gordon said, as BHS fufilled a Senior Night goal — with goldfish bowls in hand that night — of “fishing for a state title.”

Senior Hannah Rudder said being a state champ is “kinda hard to explain, I’ve never felt it before. It’s amazing, it can’t get any better, being number one in the state.

“We got it done when we needed to get it done, and we’re going to have a ring in the end so that’s all that matters,” Rudder added. “I’m very proud of our defense, especially our keeper Sarah Canter, she did very good. Our defense is mainly what got us here.”

About Meehan’s corner kicks, “I’ve just been working on this all year,” she said. “The best thing is we’ve learned to follow ’em in. Our team can put ’em in.”

Finishing 22-3-2 on the season, Bearden did what Farragut’s baseball team did last spring — win the state crown after going winless against its archrival. All three BHS losses were to Farragut, but the Lady SoccerDawgs have the last laugh.

“It was frustrating to lose to Farragut, but we knew we had the heart to do it,” Gordon said. “We just pushed through and beat the top three teams in the state and here we are.”

As a school, Bearden joins CAK [Class A/AA] as defending soccer state champions on both the boys and girls level.

Opening state tourney play Wednesday, Nov. 1, the No. 7 state-ranked Lady SoccerDawgs ripped No. 2-ranked Houston 4-1, then Mary Alex Rochester broke a scoreless tie in the 69th minute to edge No. 1-ranked Hendersonville 1-0 in semifinals Nov. 2. Meehan assisted.

Bearden head coach Eric Turner, who is now the defending state champion coach in each gender, said his team was “playing a little tentative” for most of the first half against Collierville (17-5-2) “until the final five minutes, Collierville was taking it to us.”

The Lady Dragons ended with a 16-5 edge in shots-on-goal.

However, “We’ve been scoring on set plays all year, that’s how we beat Hendersonville,” Turner said about the game-winning corner kick conversion. “That’s kinda our game. We can mess around the midfield all day, or we can focus on our set plays, which is what got us through here these last games.”

Despite injuries causing “shuffling” among BHS defenders, “We were just awesome,” Turner said. “Sarah Canter in goal ... Sara Rochester, she broke her collarbone about three or four weeks ago and had to come back in and play.”

Turner praised first-year starter Tessa Batchelor, a sophomore, “and Kirsten Bodker, another freshman, she stepped up big-time. Those girls just figured out a way to get it done, even when we got beat, they were in the right place at the right time to recover.”

As a team, “They were resilient and stubborn,” Turner said. “They adapted and got it done for us” whether be a high-scoring or low-scoring game.

“We just knew we could do it,” Meehan said. “We came out here and believed in each other and got it done.

“We had a whole bunch of new players coming in; we lost about nine seniors [from last season],” senior Mary Alex Rochester said, “We just knew we could do it from the start. We knew it had never been done by Bearden [girls], we just wanted to be the first team to do it. It feels great.”

Canter, who helped provide the final two shutouts with 16 combined saves, had never played soccer before this fall.

Why try keeper? “Because I knew last year’s keeper [Sarah Himmelreich, also new to goalkeeping when joining the team], she played basketball with me ... I tried it out and she worked with me and I like it,” Canter said.

As for the most difficult parts of the job, “It’s kinda hard to just throw yourself down, the diving part, that was one of my main struggles,” Canter said. “Going out ... and diving for it.

“I was really nervous because all these girls have been playing soccer and they know what they’re doing, and I didn’t want to come in and just, like, not know what I’m doing.”


Amy Porter’s two goals in the first half gave Bearden a 2-0 lead in its round one opening win. Meehan’s penalty kick and a late goal from Emily Bithorn sealed the deal. Rudder and Meehan assisted. The Lady SoccerDawgs held an 8-6 edge in shots-on-goal.


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