Fate and foe forced Polk County to say goodbye to the state 1A boys soccer playoffs before it barely had time to say hello.
It is the unfortunate truth of sports, all sports, that there are moments when records, seeds, history seem to matter not, moments when all the best-made plans go awry. Polk County had one of those moments at the worst possible time Saturday, falling 2-1 to Langtree Charter Academy in the second round of the state playoffs at G.M. Tennant Stadium.
A team that positioned itself to gain the top seed in the 1A West bracket, a 19-win team that seemed poised for a lengthy playoff stay, instead found itself trying to fight back tears and sobs as the Lions (14-10-1) celebrated across W.J. Miller Field. A remarkable Wolverine season ended at 19-3.
“Things didn’t go our way,” said Polk County head coach Josh Trejo, who hugged every member of his team after the match. “I’m not taking anything away from Langtree Charter. Things happen. At the end of the day, things didn’t go our way.”
To borrow an old mountain phrase, Polk County seemed out of sorts from the start. Thanks to a first-round bye, the Wolverines hadn’t played a game in 10 days, and Trejo admitted the layoff impacted Saturday’s result.
Polk, though, still struck first and did so in familiar fashion in the ninth minute. Grayson Jones worked free on the right wing, drove deep into the penalty area and delivered a perfect cross to Isaac Edwards, who bounced a shot into the left corner to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
Langtree played with as many as five defenders in front of senior goalkeeper Josh Allen, and the defensive wall frustrated Polk for the remainder of the afternoon. The Wolverines did have some scoring opportunities in the second half, but Allen thwarted them all. Perhaps his best save came in the final five minutes as Jones delivered a long throw-in to Cameron Greve at the back post. Allen quickly reacted and got a hand on a Greve shot that looked certain to find the back of the net.
“They packed it in, like we expected,” Trejo said. “Their keeper had some saves I couldn’t believe. We had the ball in there around the edge of the six and he kept stopping them. It just wasn’t our day.”
Langtree tied the match at 1-1 late in the first half, then got the game-winning goal in the 65th minute. The Lions quickly took a throw-in that cleared Polk’s defense and found the feet of striker Landon Metzler, who dribbled in and made the most of his 1-on-1 chance, slipping a shot past Polk goalkeeper Grayson Ball to give the Lions the lead.
Polk would try and try and try, but could never get the equalizing goal, bringing an end to a season that ranked among the best in the progrma’s history.
“I’m super proud of the boys,” Trejo said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of young men. I don’t want anything from today to reflect on our season.”