Rain, Wildcats can’t stop Polk County in 1A soccer playoff victory

Polk County's Bella Marino, left

The large puddles that dotted W.J. Miller Field on Thursday night didn’t do much to deter Polk County’s girls soccer team.

South Davidson didn’t slow the Wolverines much, either.

Kendall Hall scored a pair of second-half goals to help lift the Wolverines to a 3-0 victory in the second round of the state 1A girls soccer playoffs.

Polk County (12-7) will now await the winner of Saturday’s game between Mountain Island Charter and South Stokes. Polk will either travel on Wednesday to South Stokes or host Mountain Island Charter.

Passing thunderstorms earlier in the day dumped more than an inch of rain on G.M. Tennant Stadium, leaving a soggy turf with water standing in a few areas. But the damp conditions seemed not to faze Polk County, which controlled play throughout much of the 90 minutes.

The Wolverines finally put a score on the board midway through the first half to reflect that control, with Mireya Roman rolling in a goal from just in front of the net to give Polk a 1-0 advantage.

That one-goal lead remained at the half.

Polk County’s Baylee Love

“I felt like if we had done a better job in front of the goal, we could have had a lot more success in the first half,” said Polk County head coach Lennox Charles. “They had a good plan. They put two girls on Reese (Alley), and they made her work for everything she got.

“She did a good job as far as her work rate and having an impact on the game.”

Polk County continued to press offensively in the second half, just missing a handful of chances in the first 20 minutes.¬†With South Davidson packing its defense in the middle of the field and focusing on Alley, that created opportunities on the outside for Baylee Love and Ava Marino, which in turn helped set up Hall’s first goal – Love and Alley worked the ball upfield, with Alley getting the ball to Hall in the penalty box for the goal in the 71st minute.

The Polk senior scored again in the 84th minute, with Lauren Ketwitz flicking a header to Hall, who calmly put the ball into the right corner of the net.

“Baylee Love struggled in the first half, but she came in and made a really big impact in the second half,” Charles said. “She and Ava made a huge difference.”

Willow Arkell and Sara Muse teamed for the shutout, though the Wolverines’ defense largely kept South Davidson away from the net.