Surging Polk Middle blanks Flat Rock, clinches home playoff game

Polk County Middle goalkeeper Sara Muse looks for a teammate after making a save in Wednesday's win over Flat Rock.

Polk County Middle will have a chance Monday to host a first-round match in this year’s Blue Ridge Middle School Conference girls soccer playoffs.

Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Flat Rock in the regular-season finale for both teams at Polk assured the Wolverines of that opportunity, the latest victory in a surge over the second half of the season that could make Polk a team to watch when the tourney begins.

Madi Smith’s first-half goal proved the game-winner, but it was contributions throughout the lineup that head coach Travis Aldred pointed to as key to not only Wednesday’s win, but the team’s recent strong play.

“The last four or five games, we’ve been really good,” Aldred said. “A lot of that is the second time through the schedule and knowing each team’s strengths and knowing what to do to stop them. We’ve done a good job sticking with our game plan.”

Polk Middle improved to 7-4-1 in winning for the fifth time in its past seven games. That run includes a 2-1 win over Rugby, who will be Polk Middle’s opponent on Monday in the first-round game at 4:30 p.m. at Polk.

Posting their third shutout of the season, the Wolverines relied on their defense throughout the second half to keep Flat Rock at bay. Goalkeeper Sara Muse provided the final key play of the day with 7:25 remaining when she made a sliding stop high in the penalty area of a Flat Rock breakaway.

The shutout, victory and home playoff game assured, Aldred could begin to turn his attention to the postseason and facing Rugby.

“Going from the beginning of the season and not expecting to host a playoff game to be playing here on Monday is pretty exciting,” Aldred said. “We definitely play much better at home, so we’re excited to be here.”