Often Wednesday, it felt like Polk County was just one pass away.
The Wolverines found holes in Hendersonville’s defense all night in their matchup at Tennant Stadium, but couldn’t quite close those opportunities, falling 2-1 to the Bearcats in a Mountain Foothills 7 contest.
“I thought there were some times we were developing some runs, and that last pass was a breakdown, and then you’re on the hook going the other way,” Polk County coach George Alley said.
The Wolverines (3-3-2, 0-2) definitely had some chances. Hendersonville’s keeper was forced to make a save just a minute and a half into the game. The Wolverines fired a shot wide two minutes later. An attempt sailed high in the 21-minute mark, and there was a good chance on a cross at 6:11.
And that was just in the first half.
Meanwhile, Polk County keeper Cade Bright was standing on his head. He made four critical first-half saves to turn away the Bearcats (5-3-1, 2-0). There were two he couldn’t get a hand on – Harrison Moss fired a shot that missed outside the far post by inches, and the Bearcats finally found their mark with 21:59 remaining as Eder Montiel banged home a goal to give Hendersonville a 1-0 lead.
“These kids are just getting a little bit better and playing a little bit harder every game,” Alley said. “No. 10 (Moss) is a handful. When he gets going downhill he’s really hard to stop. You probably know that they’re going to get one, maybe two, so we needed to generate a few more goals. But I’m proud of the way these guys fought.
The Bearcats’ lead stood up until the 22:43 mark of the second half, when the Wolverines leveled the score as Nate Martinez floated in a header to tie it at 1-1.
The tie wouldn’t last. Though Polk County was dictating the run of play, Hendersonville broke through at just about the time a rainstorm that had been threatening for most of the game did as well. Bright stopped a point-blank shot, but the ball squirted away, and Montiel knocked it in for what proved to be the game-winner.
“I thought we had found our footing and were really playing a little bit there,” Alley said.
Alley said he’s encouraged by the Wolverines’ progress, and is anxious to see even more.
“The effort has been there,” he said. “Now what we’ve been working on is a little bit better defensive shape, defensive marking, which got a little bit better today. But it’s one step at a time. We’ve got a lot of young players. As we start to add a little bit of muscle and a little bit of size, it’ll happen.”