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Special week for FHS-BHS soccer
Bearden has early control, edges FHS in 3-2 showdown


In a match-up between two of the state’s top teams, defense usually plays a major role in the outcome. Friday, April 13, at Bearden’s Bruce Allender Field, the Bulldogs had it and the Farragut Admirals didn’t.Playing without three of its top defenders, the Admirals kept the game close. But, in the end the Bearden offense was too much to handle as the Bulldogs came out with a 3-2 District 4-AAA win.

“I had three of my best players sitting on the bench, so that definitely hurts you,” Farragut head coach Wallie Culbreth said. “You can’t run any of our set plays, any of our systems that we run. The guys that played defense for me tonight did a great job, but they weren’t the starters.”

Seniors Mitchell Ishmael, All-state Nic Paolucci and Olympic development team junior Joseph Muth all sat out with injuries — and the Bulldogs took advantage.

“It’s about who wants it more and who has the stronger defense and today we showed that we did,” Bearden goalkeeper Bryan Walker said. “We have been slacking and early on this season the defense really stepped it up. Patrick Harmony stepped it up big the last couple of games.”

Bearden’s Cesar Ruiz scored the game’s first goal at the 21:53 mark on a header from Ryan Radcliffe’s corner kick. The ball bounced off Ruiz’s head and ricocheted off the head of a Farragut defender into the right corner of the net.

“The corner kick was awesome,” Bearden head coach Eric Turner said. “They had their opportunities and we had ours. We just got the extra bounce today and the ball fell in the back of the net for us.”

Farragut’s senior Ben Backstrom answered back at the 14:10 mark with a goal just past the outstretched arms of Bearden’s Walker in the left corner of the net. It was a goal that Turner feels his defense could have prevented.

“We are still making silly mistakes that are costing us goals,” Turner said. “Our guy didn’t lay a body on them and Ben went around him and just drilled a shot. Hats of to him because that is a top-class goal right there, but we felt we could have stopped that.”

Bearden (11-1, 2-0 in District 4-AAA entering the week) is the defending Class AAA state champ and the Admirals (6-1-3, 2-1) made it to the state semifinals last year. The two schools have combined to win five of the last six state titles. Bearden has won the last two meetings, dating back to last season’s Region 2-AAA championship.

Concerned about his early-season defense, “We are used to having such a strong defense and we don’t like giving up one-or-two goals a game because in crunch time in state you aren’t going to win games three-two or four-three,” Turner said. “So we have to sort some things out.”

With the game notched 1-1, Bearden’s Tom Webster gave the Bulldogs the lead with 9:33 remaining in the half on a direct kick that sailed right-to-left over a wall of Farragut defenders.

“I am amazed we didn’t get to that ball,” Culbreth said. “It was like magic.”

The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead into the half. Farragut had its chances but most of its shot attempts came from deep and Walker was able to keep the ball out of goal.

Bearden’s Nathan Zivi gave Bearden a 3-1 lead on an assist from Webster with 7 minutes left in the game to all but seal the victory for the home team in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000.

“This is what high school soccer is about, playing for your school with all these people here,” Turner said. “The intensity level is just awesome and it’s a chance for them to shine in front of their peers, which they don’t normally get to do.”

Farragut cut the lead 3-2 on a penalty kick from Travis Bolton in stoppage time, but it was too little too late for the Admirals.

“They played their game and we played our game,” Turner said. “They didn’t really change and that allowed us to be effective. We didn’t like to give up the [penalty kick] at the end, it would have been nice to get a three-one victory, but any victory against Farragut is great.”

BHS 2 WEST 0

Goals by Aaron Schoenfeld in the fifth minute and Zivi in the 75th nailed the door shut at West April 10. Walker had eight saves.

FHS 8 WALKER VALLEY 1

Backstrom’s hat trick (three goals) led the way in an April 10 romp at FHS’s Bill Clabo Field. Russell scored twice, while Jonathan Chancey, Kevin Underwood and Robert Fisher also tallied.

 

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