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SoccerDawgs hammer KDB, 4-0

Eric Turner thought his team might have to shake off a little rust Friday night.

Bearden High School’s longtime soccer coach was right.

The Bulldogs (13-0-2) overcame a lackluster start to nab a 4-0 victory over Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett at Bruce Allender Field.

“We just came out a little flat,” Turner said. “Dobyns-Bennett is a good team and they had some good opportunities, but I think a lot of that is because we hadn’t played in over a week. This was our first game since we played Farragut [April 21].

“I told the kids at halftime that I was proud of them because of the way they played. We didn’t play particularly well, but we got the job done.”

The Bulldogs finally scored in the 11th minute when Conner McCarty fed Carter Wykoff, who promptly banged the ball past Indians junior goalkeeper Preston Mercer.

“We came out a little flat,” said Wykoff, BHS senior midfielder. “But this was a total team effort and we just stepped it up in the second half.”

The Bulldogs would add another first-half tally in the 36th minute when Landon Burke buried a shot behind Mercer.

Andrew Fulcher was credited with an assist on the goal.

Perhaps the biggest play in the first half came when Bearden senior netminder Jamie White preserved the shutout. White, who made 13 saves on the evening, altered momentum when he stopped a point-blank shot from Indian Alec Murphy just six minutes before Burke scored the game’s second tally.

“I love it,” White said. “Obviously, it would be nice not to have to face any shots and sometimes I have days where I don’t have to do anything. But coach [Turner] wants a shutout every night and that’s what we have to do if we’re going to win a state championship.

“I just have to be ready when the opportunity presents itself.”

White got plenty of chances to make big saves Friday night. Dobyns-Bennett outshot the Bulldogs 22-21 and had more shots on frame (13-12).

“We came out flat,” White said. “We have to not underestimate anyone. We have to come out ready to close teams out and do what it takes to win.”

Bearden got its offense clicking early in the second half.

The Soccer Dawgs controlled the tempo throughout the stanza. They missed some golden opportunities but were able to take a 3-0 lead on Wykoff’s second marker of the match in the 69th minute.

“When you’re rusty, you just hope the shots start to fall in,” Turner said. “Our defense played pretty well again. We struggled but we played through it and sometimes, that’s the winning formula.”

Bearden’s Sean Yoder closed out the scoring (72nd minute).

The Bulldogs got a breakout offensive performance from junior midfielder Lowry Bender, who dished out assists on both of Bearden’s second-half goals.

“I’m just happy that my teammates were there,” Bender said. “They work really hard and it’s a pleasure to play with them. Coach demands 100 percent from them.”

Looking ahead to the post-season, which begins Monday, May 9, Wykoff said, “We just have to go out and practice hard and come out and play with intensity.”


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