BY DAVE LINK
MURFEESBORO – Hardin Valley Academy’s run in the Class AAA state soccer tournament came to an end Wednesday afternoon.
So did Jessica Stephens Burkhart’s stint as the boys and girls’ coach at Hardin Valley.
Station Camp of Gallatin broke open a tight game in the second half for a 4-0 victory over the Hawks in the state semifinals at Siegel Soccer Complex.
Burkhart, recently announced as the new girls’ coach at Farragut, got her first head coaching job at HVA in June of 2020.
“I have loved every bit of my time at Hardin Valley,” Burkhart said. “I think it’s helped me grow as a person and as a coach. This group is really special. I wouldn’t take anything away from them. What they’ve been able to accomplish and pull together has really been something that few teams can really do.
“They’ve got to be proud of what they’ve done here and the program they’ve built and the culture they’ve built, and I think that comes again back to the leadership of this group doing that from the time they were freshmen on.”
Station Camp (18-6-1) will play Brentwood (24-0) on Friday at 11 a.m. CT for the state championship.
HVA finished 13-4-6.
The Hawks made their first state appearance since 2015 and their third overall.
“No one loves when the season ends,” Burkhart said, “but I think when you’re able to stop and look back on it I think they’ll be proud of the run they put together. You can’t be disappointed when you’re one of the final four teams left.
“It’s hard to be disappointed in that. It’s just you feel disappointed when you still want something more. I think that part you’ve just got to work through but I couldn’t be more proud of the leadership that we have and the talent they have coming back. It’s got to be something that they can hold on to and keep working towards.”
Station Camp had 15 shots to Hardin Valley’s three.
The Bison took a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute when Chaz Ballweber tipped a shot past HVA sophomore keeper Adam Leonard.
It was the only goal of the half.
HVA got a penalty kick early in the second half with a chance to tie, but Station Camp keeper Aldo Fonseca made the stop on D.J. Powers’ shot.
“You’ve got to get a little bit of luck there too,” Burkhart said of the PK. “It just wasn’t bouncing our way. Their keeper made a save on it and those are hard to save, and he did his job.”
Cameron Smith scored in the 59th minute for a 2-0 lead, and shortly after Burkhart switched formations, trying to ramp up the offense.
The Bison got a goal by William Bruce in the 72nd minute for a 3-0 lead, and Ethan McNamee scored in the 76th minute for a 4-0 lead.
“Anytime you’re behind in an elimination game,” Burkhart said, “you have to make adjustments to get some offensive push and we took a risk with putting three in the back and they exposed that. It’s a risk you take in trying to get something going, but you also leave yourselves vulnerable and they were able to capitalize on that.”