Polk County’s soccer home opener ended Thursday in heartbreak mixed with a healthy dose of confusion and controversy.
West Henderson scored the winning goal either with one second remaining or after regulation time expired, depending upon who you asked. If among those you asked were match officials, they held the former view, which meant the Falcons left Polk County with their fourth win of the season, a 3-2 triumph on the Wolverines’ home pitch.
Polk County, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit and very nearly took a late lead, undoubtedly deserved a better fate than the uncertain ending.
Chaos developed as follows – as regulation time ran out, a foul was whistled on Polk County just inside the Wolverines’ side of the field. The foul and accompanying yellow card appeared to occur with two seconds remaining, though the game clock ticked off to zero.
While Polk County’s sideline attempted to point out the absence of time on the clock, the match referee spotted the ball for West Henderson’s free kick. That kick was made, and almost immediately thereafter, a horn blew to signal the end of the match.
Just after the horn sounded, which sparked some relaxation on the field, West Henderson’s Tyson Hichman took the free kick and drilled a shot into the Polk goal, setting off a Falcon celebration. Officials conferred, officials talked long and loud with Polk County head coach Lennox Charles, but the final verdict was this – officials ruled that there were five seconds, not two, remaining when the foul was whistled, and they determined that Hichman’s goal came with one second left.
Though according to rules the game clock should have served as official time, and though Polk County’s bench said it had no knowledge that five seconds remained, the end ruling was a valid goal for Wes and a tough loss for the Wolverines.
The Falcons (4-1) got both their goals in a two-minute span late in the first half, George Tsakalos finding a loose ball on the left wing and netting a shot just under the crossbar with 10:27 remaining, then Hichman putting in a rebound after a nice stop by Polk goalkeeper Wilson Edwards with 8:29 remaining.
The Wolverines (1-2) quickly responded, though, as Nate Smart pushed a pass into the West Henderson penalty area for Wil Rimer, who fought off a Falcon defender and poked a shot in the right corner of the net, cutting the deficit in half with 7:39 left.
The score remained that way until midway through the second half. Tom Artmeier’s corner kick curled over both West goalkeeper Armando Mondragon and a pile of West and Polk players and somehow found Rimer behind, who tapped the ball into the net to tie the match.
Rimer nearly had his third hat trick in two nights a few moments later, blasting a shot from near the top of the penalty area that hit the crossbar and bounced down in front of the goal, but was cleared away.
The Wolverines continue their four-game homestand on Monday, hosting East Lincoln in a match slated to begin at 6 p.m.