Polk County Middle didn’t take advantage of having the wind at its back in the first half of Monday’s Blue Ridge Conference girls soccer playoff opener.
Turns out that didn’t matter – the Wolverines just blew past Rugby in the second half.
Polk Middle got a pair of goals from Belen Akers and contributions from its entire linuep in handing Rugby Middle a 2-0 defeat in tourney action at Polk Middle.
Next up for the Wolverines (8-4-1) is a semifinal date Wednesday at undefeated Hendersonville Middle. Polk Middle will trek to Hendersonville having won six of its last eight matches, the only loss a 3-2 defeat by the Bearcats in early April.
Gusty winds blew throughout Monday’s match, though neither team capitalized on having the breeze at its back. Polk Middle had that edge in the first half and had several scoring opportunities, but could never get one in the net.
“We started off sluggish,” said Polk Middle head coach Travis Aldred. “I’m not a fan of Monday games, and I think it showed why today.”
Akers tallied for the first time with 17:32 left in the second half after Polk’s midfield pushed the ball out of a throng of players toward the Rugby net. Akers took possession and drilled a shot from the right wing to give Polk a 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines then added an extra goal with 5:32 remaining off a set play, Akers taking a throw-in from Julia Griffin and tapping it into the net.
The Polk Middle defense made that lead stand, with defenders Griffin, Rollins Carter, Ella Waldman and Scout Harmon and goalkeeper Sara Muse keeping Rugby at bay.
“We’ve worked the last four weeks on trying to finish throw-ins and corner kicks,” Aldred said. “We finally got one in today.
“Hopefully, this will carry over until Wednesday. That’s going to be a challenge.”