MURFREESBORO – The huge albatross around Brentwood’s neck in recent years has been Knoxville Bearden.
In their state semifinal match Thursday at the Richard Siegel complex, Bearden scored 10 minutes in and it appeared its mastery of Brentwood would continue.
But the Bruins played an inspired second half and rallied for a 2-1 victory.
In so doing, they earned the opportunity to defend their Class AAA state title 2:30 p.m. Saturday at 2:30 against Knoxville Farragut, a 2-0 winner over No. 5 nationally-ranked Cleveland.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Brentwood coach Mike Purcell said. “Bearden played hard in the first half but we responded and played the best half of the season.”
The Bulldogs (13-5-4) defeated the Bruins (18-4-3) the last two times they met at the Class AAA state tournament – 3-0 in 2006 and 3-2 on penalty kicks in 2007.
Bearden senior forward D.J. Pleasant staked his team to the early lead, but Brentwood responded behind a pair of assists eight minutes apart from Daniel McLaughlin.
Senior sweeper Robby Dupuis scored the game-winner shortly after leading scorer Nick Desalvatore tied it 1-1 in the 59th minute.
“We haven’t had great luck against them recently but this is big for our confidence,” Purcell said.
The Bruins outshot the Bulldogs 11-4 for the game and Purcell thought that difference was key.
“We were able to shot on net and keep pressure on them and that was huge,” he said.