Monday’s see-saw soccer match finally tipped for good in Polk County’s favor.
Matias Akers’ overtime goal gave the Wolverines a 3-2 win over Madison in the Western Highlands Conference opener for both teams in G.M. Tennant Stadium.
Polk County (2-0-1, 1-0) began defense of its 2019 WHC championship with its 11st straight conference victory. But Madison (1-1, 0-1) made it a long and challenging night to do so on the first of three meetings this season between the two teams.
Each team led once in regulation, only to see the opposite side respond with an equalizer. While Polk had more possessions and created more scoring chances, much of the match was spent with those possessions ranging from penalty area to penalty area, the teams slogging back and forth throughout the evening.
The Wolverines, though, took the lead for good just into the fifth minute of the first 10-minute extra period with a nice bit of passing. Cameron Greve took charge of a free ball near midfield and tapped that ahead to Jack Smith, who played the ball back a few yards to Elliott Whiteside. Whiteside, in turn, sent a long looping pass toward the right top of the penalty area.
As the ball bounced into the box, Akers raced around a Madison defender and poked the ball away from sliding Madison goalkeeper Zack Hall. A free ball at his feet and an empty net in front, Akers quickly drove the ball into the net for the winning goal.
Hall spent the first 20 minutes of the match turning aside a handful of Polk scoring chances. His efforts were rewarded in the 20th minute when teammate Tucker Brown found a loose ball in front of the Polk net and tapped it home to give Madison a 1-0 lead.
Polk, though, soon evened the match as Luke Becker intercepted a Madison pass in the Wolverines’ end of the field and played a long ball ahead that found Akers racing toward the goal. The senior, ahead of two Madison defenders, dribbled into the box and chipped a shot past Hall to make it a 1-1 score in the 29th minute.
The Wolverines grabbed their first lead of the night just two minutes into the second half. Polk earned a free kick inches outside the top of the penalty area, and Adam Kehrer came forward from his defender’s slot to take the kick. Kehrer’s left-footed drive curled toward the near post, where Hall dove and initially stopped the shot. The ball, though, trickled away under Hall as he fell and crossed the goal line, giving Polk a 2-1 edge.
Madison evened the match again in the 46th minute as a long throw-in bounced through a maze of players in front of the goal to a spot near the back post, where Patriot senior Trent Jones raced in and hammered a point-blank drive into the goal.
Akers would then tally the winner in overtime, also nearly missing a goal in the final minute of the match.
Polk County is back at home Wednesday, hosting Owen in a 6 p.m. contest that will air on the NFHS Network.