BY DAVE LINK
CHATTANOOGA — Saturday wasn’t a good time for the Greeneville girls’ soccer team to face an early deficit.
Station Camp of Gallatin scored in the 7th minute and never let up during a 9-2 victory over Greeneville in the Class AA state championship match at CHI Memorial Stadium.
The Bison (16-4-2) had 27 shots, 16 on goal.
Greeneville (17-8) had seven shots, four on goal.
“Defensively, giving up that goal early on,” Greeneville coach Jerry Graham said, “we’ve talked about how it helps us getting a goal early. It helps relieve the anxiety and stress with the girls, but once you go down, we were on the other side of that today.”
Station Camp junior forward Ayden Wood had a hat track at halftime when the Bison led 4-0.
Wood finished with five goals on 12 shots (eight on goal) and was selected MVP of the championship match.
“She’s fast. She’s tactical,” Graham said of Wood. “We talked about pressuring and covering her and always being aware of where she is. She drifts around. She plays central and she’ll come out wide.”
Greeneville, going for its fifth state title, lost to Page the past two seasons in the Class AA semifinals.
Station Camp won its first state championship in girls’ soccer in its third state appearance. The Bison lost to Bearden 7-0 in last year’s Class AAA semifinals before dropping down in classification this year.
“They’re a really good team. They deserve it,” Greeneville senior forward Anna Shaw said. “I’m glad we both got to come out here and play the game of soccer one last time. They played really good. We weren’t ready for today, but you know, it’s our last game and I felt like we left it all on the field and we played our hearts out.”
Their early deficit was too much to overcome.
Freshman Emma Wood, sister of Ayden Wood, booted a free kick that sailed over a group in front of Greeneville goalkeeper Lily Evatt to Station Camp defender Harper Thomas, who fired a shot past Evatt for the goal.
The Bison made it 2-0 in the 18th minute when Ayden Wood scored from close range past Evatt on a breakaway.
“The second goal was off the throw in,” Graham said. “We kind of lost (Wood) and they threw it over our heads and she broke that line really quick and had the play at near post. You go down two and it’s tough, especially when you’re not able to get an attack going offensively.”
Wood made it 3-0 in the 20th minute, drilling a shot from the top of the box into the left corner of the goal.
And another goal by Wood in the 24th minute – this one from about 25 yards – gave the Bison a 4-0 lead.
Station Camp had 14 shots (eight on goal) in the first half, while Greeneville had two shots (one on goal).
“We talked about at halftime just trying to come back and muster one goal at a time,” Graham said. “We didn’t really shift formations until about 25 minutes left, shifted to three-back. You start opening yourselves up to counters. We were able to get a couple of goals but obviously we did open ourselves up to counters and sure enough, they capitalized on them.”
Wood got her fourth goal for a 5-0 lead in the 45th minute with a shot from 20 yards.
Elle Lassiter’s goal from the left wing made it 6-0 in the 58th minute.
Shaw broke Greeneville’s scoring drought in the 61st minute, getting a turnover inside the box and scoring past keeper Linden Perry.
Shaw scored again in the 65th minute when her shot went off Perry’s hands.
By then, it was too late for a rally.
Shaw said Station Camp’s early goals hurt.
“We came out here like, ‘Wow, we’re in the state championship,’ and then they kept getting goals,” Shaw said. “It was like, ‘This isn’t how a state championship is supposed to go.’ But you know, that was the goal, but it’s not our purpose.”
Wood scored her fifth goal in the 69th minute for a 7-2 lead.
Laura Hendricks scored in the 71st minute and Kennedy Dean’s goal in the 77th minute made it 9-2.
“I think (Station Camp) did a great job,’’ Graham said. “I think they played an excellent game. Nothing against them, but I don’t think we played near as well as we could. Hats off to them for their game plan. It’s one of those you’d like to have back, but unfortunately that’s not the way it works.”
Graham, who has eight seniors, was proud of his team’s development during the season.
“My gosh, we lost five starters from last year,” Graham said. “We were 6-6 in the middle of the year, playing competition like Bearden and Houston trying to get ourselves better. The attitude these girls have, making themselves better going back and watching film, they have to be commended for that.
“They’re the ones that got us here. Their hard work got us to this state championship game. It’s tremendous. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Our senior leadership this year has been phenomenal. My heart breaks for them because we wanted this for them.”