GALLATIN - The Station Camp soccer team’s drive for a third consecutive state championship stayed alive on Tuesday as the Bison secured a spot in the state sectionals with a 3-0 win over Mt. Juliet at home in the Region 5 semifinals.
“It’s important for the team to peak at the right time,” Station Camp coach Jeremy Cooke said. “We want to be playing our best in the tournament.”
The Bison were led by junior center back Justin Sarduy who scored two second half goals.
“I was trying to help out the team,” Sarduy said. “Now, it’s on to the next game. Hopefully, I’ll get two goals in that game too.”
Station Camp will play for the Region 5 championship at 5 p.m. Thursday at Smyrna, a 2-1 winner over Hendersonville in the other region semifinal matchup.
The Bison defeated Smyrna last year, but this is a new year, Sarduy said. “Hopefully, we’ll get another win.”
Station Camp and Mt. Juliet traded scoring chances early in the game. Just under six minutes into the game, sophomore forward Donovan Smith took a cross from Christiam Lopez, but missed the shot high over the goal.
Forward Josh Street got off a strong shot at just under nine minutes into the game, but Mt. Juliet goalie Jake Hirschman made the save.
Mt. Juliet’s best scoring chance of the game came with 29:35 left in the first half. Golden Bear defender Briscoe Massa put a free kick from near midfield into the 18-yard box just in front of the goal.
In the scramble for the ball in front of the net, Mt. Juliet had two chances to score, the last rejected by Station Camp goalie Travis Craig who made a kick save to prevent a goal.
Station Camp finally broke through with 24:07 left in the first half when Smith took a pass to the right of the goal from senior midfielder Riley Indermuehle and blasted a shot into the far corner to give the Bison a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Station Camp got two goals from Sarduy. The first game at the 37:07 mark when Sarduy took a corner kick from Smith and put the ball off the crossbar and into the net for a 2-0 Bison lead.
Sarduy struck again with 23:28 left in the game. Lopez found junior Phillip Smith with a pass to the right of the goal. Smith fought his way past the Mt. Juliet defense and passed the ball back to the middle finding Sarduy, who buried the shot.
“I really liked the second half effort,” Cooke said of his team.
The Bison did a better job of recognizing what the Mt. Juliet defense was giving them and capitalizing by sending the ball wide and then crossing it back to the middle, Cooke said.
Despite the loss, Mt. Juliet Coach Michael McCall was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I’m proud of our guys. It was a hard-fought game,” McCall said. “Credit to Station Camp. They’re a good team,” he said. “But our guys showed a mental toughness that’s been a hallmark of our team.”