Sydney Jordan’s goal with 20 minutes left gave Science Hill a 1-0 victory over Bearden in the Region 1-AAA girls’ soccer championship game Thursday night at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
“I love it for these girls,” Science Hill coach David Strickland said. “They had a massive desire to win and I’m super happy for them.”
The Lady Hilltoppers improved to 18-3-1 and will play host to Region 2-AAA runner-up Powell on Saturday in a sectional game with a berth in the state tournament on the line. The time for that game is expected to be set on Friday.
Bearden, which beat Dobyns-Benett 8-0 in the regional semifinals, fell to 17-3-1. The Bulldogs will play at Region 2-AAA champion Maryville in Saturday’s sectional.
Science Hill controlled the action for much of the night, playing more aggressively than the visitors and possessing the ball for a good portion of the game.
“I felt like one was coming,” Strickland said. “We talked about it at halftime, the saying ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get.’
“I think our desire to get the ball all night long was much more. I was really excited the way they fought for the ball. Then when they won the ball, they put it down and did stuff with it. There was no panic.”
With 20 minutes remaining, Jordan curled a left-footed shot just inside the left post, setting off a celebration. The Lady ’Toppers then held off Bearden’s most concentrated attack of the night.
Science Hill almost scored again in the final minute when Megan Burleson’s shot from distance clanged off the crossbar and Jordan narrowly missed putting in the rebound.
As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary as goal keeper Miaka Miller earned a shutout even though she wasn’t called upon to do much.
“One way we know were playing pretty well is when our goal keeper isn’t very busy,” Strickland said.
Bearden’s bench received two yellow cards for reactions and comments directed toward the linesman late in the game.
“They battled a little harder,” Bearden coach Ryan Radcliffe said. “You can’t blame it on the officiating. We knew coming up here it wasn’t going to be great officiating. I don’t think I’ve ever had a game when I’ve been up here where there’s been some consistent officiating. We can’t blame it on that. We were prepared for it. We knew it. They won more 50-50 balls than us and they got one in there late and we couldn’t rebound.”