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Senior-laden Bulldogs end Tribe's run in region semis

JEFF BIRCHFIELD • May 15, 2019 at 12:57 AM

KNOXVILLE — Bearden scored two goals in a little over a minute near the end of the first half and took a 4-2 win over Dobyns-Bennett in Tuesday’s Region 1-AAA soccer semifinal at Turner-Allenden Field.

Collin Lewis finished with a hat trick. In the 39th minute, he booted a shot from the left side with an assist from Asiimwe Ironside and then scored Bearden’s only second half goal with a direct kick in the 50th.

The Indians (17-3-1) appeared to get one back when Sam Garcia booted through a shot and Bearden goalkeeper Holden Giesecke laid the ball on the ground. But Giesecke bent down toward the ball and the goal was disallowed on a player safety call.

“Some breaks go your way and some don’t, I’ll put it that way,” D-B coach Tom LaGuardia said. “I’m proud of our guys. They played hard and stayed in the fight in a difficult situation.

“It’s a quality Bearden side. We knew coming in that one of us who deserved to be in the final eight was going to move on and the other had to go home. Unfortunately, it was us.”

Bearden (17-2) is looking to add to a tradition that includes four state championships, the most recent in 2016, and state semifinal appearances in two of the past three seasons. Both teams made the state tournament last season although the Bulldogs returned 12 seniors to just six for the Tribe.

The Bulldogs had a 19-7 shot advantage and 7-2 on corner kicks. Still, the Indians played them even for nearly a half.

Lewis scored his first goal off an assist from Carter Turner in the 12th minute. D-B’s Spencer Correll netted the tying goal in the 29th minute.

“That’s a top-level team and they do a great job taking advantage of mistakes,” Correll said. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them. It was a pretty evenly faced match.

“I thought we did a good job coming back after their first goal took a little air out of us. That goal I scored on the left wing brought us back even. Sam trying to poke that one at the end of the half, I’m not sure about that, but that’s how the game rolls.”

The damage came quickly with Bearden’s Sam Patterson scoring on a cross with an assist from Jonathan Meystrik. Lewis later scored the second goal for a 3-1 lead.

Lewis put the Bulldogs up by three goals before D-B’s Will Arrowood scored in the 75th off a Garcia assist.

Six D-B seniors - Marshall Palmer, Parker McGhee, Sam Collier, Garcia, Correll and Hardev Nischal — saw their seasons come to an end.

“This group is a small group and we’re a young team,” LaGuardia said. “You saw three seniors who contributed a lot tonight. We had 11 players who were juniors and we had a lot of young guys. We’re happy with what they did.”

Garcia said this year’s squad was a family.

“All the talk we heard around town, nobody really expected us to have a season like we had and I guarantee people in Knoxville didn’t expect us to be like this, either,” Garcia said. “The seniors, we did our best for leadership and we just laid a foundation for the rest of the years.

“It gives me chill bumps to think about what this team means. Playing at D-B has been some of the best memories of my life. There are so many skills I’m going to use the rest of my life.

“This is more than just soccer,” he said. “These guys are my brothers.”

Bearden will travel to Science Hill for Thursday’s Region 1-AAA championship game.

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