ATHENS — Shortly after a 3-1 loss to McMinn County in the District 5-AAA championship match Thursday night there were no negative emotions shown from Bradley Central.Instead a group celebrated its …
ATHENS — Shortly after a 3-1 loss to McMinn County in the District 5-AAA championship match Thursday night there were no negative emotions shown from Bradley Central.
Instead a group celebrated its accomplishment of a runner-up finish in a tough league, which they have survived to advance to the Region 3-AAA tournament for the second year in a row.
"Everybody on this team loves playing soccer," senior standout Anna Stouffer said. "We enjoy being out there. It's not something to just pass time. Even days when we lose, we are still having fun on the field together. We are grateful for the chance to keep playing."
The Bearettes (10-6-2) will face a familiar opponent when they travel to Cookeville to face the Lady Cavaliers (12-1-1) for the region semifinals next Tuesday (start time to be determined).
Last year in the same round, Bradley fell 2-1 and had several close looks just miss against a powerful CHS program with five straight sub-state appearances.
"These girls will be ready to go like they are every day," BC first-year head coach and all-time Bearette scoring leader Savannah Edwards said. "They love playing for each other and have trained hard to get this far. Playing the sport they love, it's been easy for the coaches to do what we need to do."
Once again showing a strong fight in front of the net, junior goalkeeper Lillian Lawson impressed while facing more than 30 shots.
McMinn's attack was fluid, driven by freshman Allie Hansford (2 goals) and senior Kylie Murphy.
Thirty seconds into each half, the Lady Cherokees (12-2-1) had already put a shot on frame, but each one was smothered by Lawson.
Bradley's red-hot keeper, who saved 13 shots in a district semifinals win over Walker Valley, was able to save a season-high 17 shots, including 11 in the second half.
Lawson displayed strong hands as she jabbed powerful shots to the ground, kept strong balance against close attackers and wowed Stouffer, who was awarded the overall MVP and defensive MVP for the district this season.
"Lillian is incredibly tough," Stouffer said. "She keeps playing like she never broke her nose. I am pretty sure I landed on her face tonight and she got up and was fine. She is so determined to achieve her goals. She has a great drive."
The Bearettes were held scoreless until stoppage time in the final seconds of the match. They found tough luck earlier as well, with three of their shots during the championship match glancing off the crossbar.
Bradley sophomore Haley Esquinance put forth quality shots on goal as she found a nice flow down the right sideline and fired four shots in a 10-minute stretch.
Stouffer assisted the lone BC score with a powerful corner kick from the left side, which led directly to the strong header of junior Reagan Harrold to get her team on the scoreboard from close-in.
Harrold had several other strong runs at the net.
While falling short of the program's first district championship, the Bearettes are happy to keep playing.
Standout scorer Cambree Mayo and company will look to provide perhaps the biggest win in Bradley girls soccer history, next Tuesday in Cookeville.
"I am very proud of them," Coach Edwards said. "The job is not done yet. Hopefully we can manage to put something together in the region. They have deserved everything they have accomplished. I know they will keep pushing."
BRADLEY COUNTY ALL-DISTRICT
Bradley: Cambree Mayo, Maddie Tennant, Lillian Lawson, Reagan Harrold, Haley Esquinance and Anna Stouffer
Cleveland: Madison Dasher
Walker Valley: Miriana Patel, Macy GIbson, Jaydra Martinez, Ashley Eulo and Kendall Harris (District Offensive MVP).
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