Miles Christian led a sterling attack on offense and posted a pair of goals on the night, but it was a much improved defense that stole the show in the 4-nil victory.
“We have been running that ‘flat back four’ for two years. We had been winning balls, but the communication just wasn’t there. We’ve had gaps all season. Finally, we are holding a line, and that to me is one of the most important things we have been working on,” stated Bradley head coach Tucker Blackmon.
The offsides trap was clicking for the Bears as the back four stayed at home and communicated well. It paid dividends throughout the game with momentum-killing calls going against the visitors that translated directly into numerous offensive pushes.
While Blackmon awarded his defense an “A” grade on the evening, he gave his offensive attack a “high B” for their effort against the Seahawks.
It didn’t take the forwards long to get on the board, when Christian found Austin Childs in the third minute on a two-on-one in the penalty area to put Bradley up by one.
Christian nabbed one for himself in the 16th minute of play when he went strong to the goal, pushing though the defense to find the back of Silverdale’s net.
Both clubs traded a few volleys through the first half, but the Bears clearly dominated on both possession and quality shots on goal, with no fewer than four different Bradley players putting attempts up in the first half.
The visitor’s woodwork tooks some abuse as multiple offensive pushes found their way to either the crossbar or the posts and bounced harmlessly away.
“Stuff like hitting the bars is going to happen. I can’t fault the kids with that. There isn’t much you can do when you have Austin make a back post run and Miles lays the ball across only to hit the crossbar. They did everything right. It’s just an unlucky result,” Blackmon said.
First half play came to an end on the back of Bradley’s defense gaining the offsides calls to stall the Seahawk attack before it could even start.
Going into the break, the Bears held the 2-nil lead, and looked well in control of the game’s outcome.
Play almost started the exact same way in the second half when Christian found Childs again within the first two minutes of play, but the resulting shot rung off the bar and resulted in nothing.
A handball call came against Silverdale in the 52nd minute, and Christian was all too happy to punch the resulting free kick into the Seahawk net for the third Bradley goal.
The fourth Bear goal came at the hands of Byron Pineda in the 70th minute when he launched a ball from range that proved too much for Silverdale’s keeper to handle, putting Bradley up by the final tally of 4-nil.
It was the final match Bradley’s seniors will play on the home pitch as they will utilize the football field for their senior night festivities Thursday night for their District 5-AAA match against Rhea County.
“Rhea is big. We can never take them for granted. They flat out play hard. They have a good team this year. We can’t sleep on them, especially with the tournament coming up,” Blackmon explained.
Thursday’s match will have implications in the quickly approaching district tournament, with the fifth, sixth and seventh seeds being decided by the outcome.