HVA struggles in draw against Heritage

HARDIN VALLEY — The players on Hardin Valley Academy’s boys soccer team will long remember Senior Night 2016.

Unfortunately, it may be for the wrong reason. The Hawks soccer program has emerged as a powerhouse but HVA has struggled this season and on Friday night those struggles were intensified, as the Hawks and Heritage played to a 1-1 draw in a District 4-AAA match at HVA.

Hardin Valley (3-6-2 overall, 1-2-2 in the district) may have honored its seniors but it was the Mountaineers (4-10-3, 1-5-1) that made a little history.

“I’m really proud of my guys. This is the first time that we’ve ever tied a team from Knoxville,” Heritage coach Nick Bradford said. “We’ve never as much as had a draw against Bearden, Farragut, West or Hardin Valley. “We decided when we came in that we weren’t going to sit back. We didn’t want to play for a tie.

“If we wanted to play for the tie, we would have.”

Bradford had to like what he saw from the Heritage squad, who battled the Hawks valiantly throughout a scoreless first half that saw the Mountaineers, who created numerous scoring opportunities that were stopped by HVA senior goalkeeper Jeremy Wise.

“I really think that we were more efficient than they were,” Bradford said. “I think we had more shots on frame than they did.

“We did a great job but their keeper was pretty good and he had some big stops against us. We’ve struggled but tonight, we showed the willingness to attack.”

While Heritage was ecstatic with the hard-fought draw, the result couldn’t have been more devastating for the home side, which had its Senior Night festivities spoiled by a lackluster performance.

“It was an emotional night for our seniors but that’s no excuse for what happened out here tonight,” said Hawks junior Dylan Viera, who scored the lone goal for the Hawks in the 47th minute of the game. “We both wanted this game and you can’t say that we didn’t have our chances. I know that I had multiple chances and I was able to finish one of them.

“Heritage played hard and they really wanted this one bad. We both did.

The Mountaineers pulled even when Alejandro Romero tallied just seconds after Viera’s shot went past Heritage senior netminder Gaige Swanner and into the back of the net.

Romero’s marker equalized things in the 48th minute and represented the last scoring of the match.

Both the Hawks and Mountaineers had some chances in the second half but the two respective defenses took center stage after halftime.

Hardin Valley coach Mark Patterson hopes that Friday night’s game will serve as a wake-up call for his team.

“Heritage deserved to win,” Patterson said, “They played fairly well and they really deserved to get a victory. They got a draw and I’m sure that it feels like a victory to them.

“Our guys think that since they’re associated with Hardin Valley, that they should win these games. But we’re rebuilding.

“This should be a reality check for our guys.”