Station Camp Head Soccer Coach Jeremy Cooke stood on the green soccer pitch holding a framed collage of pictures and mementos, as he waited to present each individual senior player with their gift. As the evening sun faded, each player walked arm-in-arm with their parents across the field they have called home for their high school career.
The celebration came during halftime of Friday’s district soccer match against McGavock High School as the Bison looked to close out their last regular season home game with a victory. Station Camp seized the opportunity from the opening kick as they dominated McGavock for a 5-1 senior night win.
“The good thing about these boys is they don’t care about self-gratitude,” Cooke said of his senior players. “They’re more worried about winning the state championship, not for them, but for last year’s seniors and that says a lot about them. So, I’m really happy for them. I’m proud of them and I hope they can find a way to get these wins, move forward and we do get to accomplish that goal for last year’s seniors, because that’s who they care about the most and that shows a lot about their personalities.”
Senior Cade MacLean’s kick started the scoring for the Bison after getting fouled in the box and being awarded a penalty shot. MacLean then lined up and buried the kick into the lower left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead nine minutes in.
Station Camp continued a constant barrage of pressure and shots against McGavock goalkeeper Adan Gonzalez, as McGavock attempted to keep the game close.
“They have a hell of a keeper,” Cooke added after Friday’s match. “That dude is the best keeper around. I don’t care what anybody says. He’s phenomenal.”
Gonzalez, the Trevecca Nazarene University recruit, made diving save after diving save, but the Bison onslaught finally proved too much late in the first half as Chaz Ballweber and Joey Bombrys scored back-to-back goals only a minute apart.
Facing a quick 3-0 deficit, McGavock rallied with a beautiful goal in front by Daniel Garcia with only two minutes remaining in the half.
After an inspiring halftime celebration honoring its seniors, Station Camp quickly picked back up the offensive attack, but again found it difficult to get a shot past the McGavock goalkeeper.
“I think he’s the best keeper in the state,” McGavock Head Soccer Coach Wynn Hodge said of Gonzalez. “I’d say just about every coach in our district would prolly agree with that statement. I mean he’s unbelievable.”
Nearly half way through the second half Gonzalez made another diving save on a shot attempt by Station Camp’s Cade MacLean, but this time MacLean regained possession of the ball and made a nice pass to teammate Drew Waller, who kicked home the goal to make it a 4-1 Bison advantage.
Waller again found the back of the net a few minutes later by scoring on a well-timed assist from Ethan Schlegel, who raced in towards the goal past several McGavock defenders.
Despite the loss, the McGavock coach was pleased with his team’s effort and the way they responded to the challenge of facing a formidable team like Station Camp.
“I thought we played fairly well for having so many guys hurt and hardly any subs,” Hodge added. “I would have liked a different score, but thought we played very well considering the cards being stacked against us.”
On the heels of a tough 3-3 tie to rival Hendersonville earlier in the week, Station Camp looked to regroup this week and try new players in different formations.
“So Wednesday we had like a two-hour-long meeting of things we needed to work out and I think we got a lot of things accomplished,” Cooke said. “I think everybody’s comfortable with this and I think we’re getting to a point now with this new formation and new players there that we can actually get comfortable with our movement off the ball.”
The Bison now turn their attention to a big district game at Beech on Tuesday as they attempt win their district and finish in first place.
“We got to go there and play, and it’s always different to go there and play. I mean I coached there for four years, so I know it,” Cooke said of Beech. “We got to make sure we stay mentally into it and prepare to come up there and give them a good game. They’re going to give us a good game — I know that much. So we’ve got to make sure we match the intensity from them.”