Monday’s outcome had long been decided, but Polk County’s soccer team remained on a mission.
The Wolverines were well on their way to defeating Chase, leading the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup 7-0 in the second half. But every Polk County player remained focused on helping senior defender Luke Miller score his first career goal.
In many ways the emotional heart of the Wolverines this season, Miller moved forward from his usual position in Polk County’s defense, taking up residence at the top of the Polk attack. His first couple of shots sailed high, as did a free kick from the right wing just outside the penalty area.
As the clock ticked into the 63rd minute, the Wolverines began building momentum toward the Chase goal. Nate Martinez and James Purtill swapped passes to move into Trojan territory, with Purtill gently pushing the ball forward to Manny Albarran in the middle of the field. Albarran took one touch and then flicked a pass in front of a charging Miller, who stepped inside a Trojan defender and bounced a shot just inside the left post.
Celebration on the field. Joy on the Polk sidelines. Delight in the Tennant Stadium stands.
Why not do it again?
A minute later, Martinez sent a pass from near midfield well ahead of Miller and a defender. Miller won the footrace, took one dribble and hit a hard drive into the upper left corner of the net.
More celebration. More delight. A 9-0 Polk County victory complete.
Miller Field? You bet.
“I’m psyched for Luke and the kids making that happen for him,” said Polk County head coach George Alley. “That’s pretty cool.”
Also proving satisfying for Alley was the entire Wolverine effort as Polk rebounded from last week’s disappointing 2-1 loss at Smoky Mountain. The Wolverines (5-4-2, 2-2) scored three minutes unti the match on an Albarran shot and kept the scoreboard ticking at regular intervals. Sebastian Azar and Albarran each had two goals in the first half and Thomas Varnadore and Harrison Ashworth also each scored as Polk built a 6-0 halftime advantage.
“It’s always good to see the ball go into the net,” Alley said. “What I was particularly pleased about was getting the ball down the sidelines and finishing on some crosses. That’s something we’ve been talking about but haven’t really been doing.
“I thought we scored goals in a lot of different ways, which is good.”
Azar scored his third goal of the evening in the 52nd minute before Miller’s two tallies ended the match by mercy rule.
Chase dropped to 0-9, 0-4 with the loss.
Polk County will travel Wednesday to East Rutherford in another conference clash.