Polk County Middle's Thomas Santibanez keeps the ball away from an Asheville Christian player during Wednesday's match

Lennox Charles admired the spirit that Polk County Middle displayed Wednesday in winning its home opener.

“We fought,” Charles said. “We showed a lot of grit and determination.”

That doggedness resulted in a 2-1 victory for the Wolverines over visiting Asheville Christian at Utz Field, improving Polk Middle to 1-0-1 in the young season.

Luke Garrison’s second-half goal proved the decider, and then Polk Middle fought to keep ACA from notching an equalizer. The Lions had a couple of opportunities, including a late shot that struck just above the crossbar, but the Wolverines were able to hold steady and earn a post-match celebration.

Part of Charles’ pleasure with the Wolverines’ effort came from watching the squad play its second game in two days in what has been a warm week in the Thermal Belt.

“I knew we would be tired, and you could see that at the end of each half,” said Charles, who is in his seventh season leading the Polk Middle program. “I told them I thought the game was a little ugly at times, but I thought they played hard, and sometimes that makes up for other things.”

The Wolverines struck in the first five minutes of the match as Cole Huntley won a footrace to a loose ball, tapping the ball past the charging ACA goalkeeper. Huntley then outhustled a defender and pushed the ball into goal for an early 1-0 Polk advantage.

The score seemed set to stay that way at the half, but a flurry of action in front of the Wolverine net resulted in an ACA goal with a single second left before halftime, evening the match at 1-1.

“The goal we gave up before halftime, a lot of that was because we were tired,” Charles said. “We had three or four chances to clear the ball and let it bounce around before they put it in goal.”

The Wolverines rested and regrouped during the half and retook the lead early in the second stanza. Ross Dow played a pass through to Brennan Oates, who struck a shot from the right side that the ACA goalkeeper managed to deflect. There for the rebound, though, was Luke Garrison, who collected the ball and fired a point-blank drive into the net for what proved to be the game-winner.

Polk Middle will return to the road on Monday, making the long trip to Franklin to face Macon Middle in a 4:30 p.m. match.

Polk Middle’s Owen Justice races to battle for a loose ball during Wednesday’s match