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Polk County's Jesus Avellaneda, left, celebrates with Matias Akers after scoring a goal late in Monday's match

Soccer

Wolverines score early, often to top Cardinals in 1A playoff opener

Two goals in the first three minutes had fans gathered Monday night in G.M. Tennant Stadium thinking perhaps a high-scoring shootout awaited.

Polk County held up its end of that promise.

The Wolverines rolled to a 7-2 win over Cornerstone Charter Academy in the second round of the state 1A playoffs, advancing to the third round for the first time since 2015.

The news got even better for the Wolverines after the match – Union Academy upset Mount Airy, the No. 2 seed in the 1A West bracket, meaning Polk County will host that third-round matchup with Union Academy on Thursday, game time TBA.

Matias Akers had two goals as the Wolverines (13-10-1) tallied often in a chaotic first half – two goals in the first three minutes and four in the first 20 as the teams played to a 2-2 tie midway through the half.

But Polk County settled defensively at that point, and Akers’ drive from 15 yards out into the upper left corner in the 21st minute gave the Wolverines a lead they wouldn’t lose.

Polk continued to aggressively push forward on offense and made that approach pay off with two more goals before the half, one on Isaac Edwards’ drive from some 15 yards out into the top half of the net, the other a long kick from the right wing from Jordan Wyatt that just nicked the upper corner of the left post and crossbar and glanced into the net.

“They definitely didn’t like the pressure we put on them,” said Polk County head coach Josh Trejo. “I thought everybody moved the ball well in the first and second half.

“I really enjoyed the finishes tonight. The finishes were absolutely amazing.”

The Wolverines added two more goals in the final half, one as Akers pounced on a loose ball deep in the penalty box and drilled it home, the other as Jesus Avellaneda followed a rebound off his penalty kick and tapped it into the net.

Polk County scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the match to take a 2-1 lead, once on a Clark Phipps header, the other on a Grayson Jones blast from the right wing.

“Overall, we’re blessed to be going into the third round,” said Trejo. “This was a good game to get some confidence. I really enjoyed it.”

Goalkeeper Jonah Wyatt had seven saves in the win, with Jones and Alex Pearson each recording two assists.

Cornerstone ended its season with a 6-14-1 record.

Union Academy (14-7) advanced with a 1-0 win over Mount Airy despite being outshot 13-4 in the match. The Cardinals scored on their only shot of the night on goal.

The Cardinals finished fourth in the PAC-7 Conference, which sent five teams to the playoffs and all five won their first-round matches.

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