MURFREESBORO — Ethan Ford was trying to pass the ball to a teammate, but it curved into the left side of the net for the game’s only goal.
That ended Franklin’s soccer season with a 1-0 loss to Bearden in a Class AAA semifinal at Siegel Soccer Complex on Wednesday night.
“It’s crazy,” said Ford with a shrug and a smile. “I put it back in for a cross and I thought Jack Raulston got a touch on it, but I guess it just went in.”
Franklin (12-4) got some good scoring chances before Ford’s goal in the 18th minute.
“When Bearden scored, it changed the game,” Admirals coach Mike Burgoyne said. “They’ve got a good crew, they were organized in the back. Big, strong center back and seemed to just break up anything that we had.”
Franklin’s Bradley Whelan had a point-blank chance in the second half, but Bearden goalkeeper Jonathan Diaz made a clutch save.
“We score that probably 90% of the time,” Burgoyne said. “Just didn’t go in for us. It just wasn’t our night tonight.”
Whelan said Diaz was one of the best goalies the Admirals have faced this season.
Freshman goalkeeper Aiden Moss enjoyed a good season for the Admirals.
“I doubt there are any other teams at this state tournament on the boys side in triple-A that have a freshman goalkeeper,” Burgoyne said. “He’s done extremely well for us.”
Moss made a diving save on Bearden’s Lucas Nordin early in the second half.
Franklin replaced seven starters and 13 seniors from last year’s pandemic-shortened season.
“I’m really impressed with their growth,” Burgoyne said. “I’m pleased with the season as a whole. Obviously, we’re really disappointed about tonight.”
The Bulldogs sat back on defense after taking the early lead.
“Their center defensive mid, he just stayed back,” said Whelan, an Alabama-Huntsville signee. “He didn’t push forward, so he made sure to not let our strikers get past him. They had four, even five at a time, when we were attacking.”
Bearden (15-3), the 2019 state champion, will play Houston (15-3-3) in Friday’s championship.
“It’s surreal,” Bulldog coach Ryan Radcliffe said. “We’re ultimately still the defending champs. That’s weird to think because we’re two years out.”
Only one starter returns from the 2019 state champion team.
Bearden posted its 12th shutout.
Radcliffe said Ford got rewarded for putting the ball in a dangerous spot for Franklin.
“That’s why you get it in the box,” Radcliffe said. “Part of what we wanted to do tonight was create danger in the box and create chances.”