Josh Trejo has never been so happy to see a zero on the scoreboard.
Polk County’s defense smothered East Rutherford on Thursday, helping the Wolverines post their first shutout of the season in a 4-0 boys soccer victory at G.M. Tennant Stadium.
Grayson Jones scored a pair of goals, one of those during a flurry early in the second half in which Polk County (4-5) seized control of the match. The Wolverines scored twice in 33 seconds, nearly adding another goal less than a minute later, to grab a 3-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Wolverine defense did its part to make the lead stand, with goalkeeper Jonah Wyatt solid behind the Polk back wall as the Wolverines finally held an opponent out of the net.
“I thought we really played well,” said defender Jordan Wyatt. “We trusted each other, and even when we made some mistakes, we didn’t give up on each other or dwell on the mistakes.”
“We were getting to headers first and winning first and second balls,” said fellow defender Adam Kehrer. “We had solidity and communication.”
Polk grabbed a 1-0 lead midway through the first half on a nice goal by Isaac Edwards, the junior winning a loose ball down the left flank, cutting back to the middle of the field and then sending a low line drive back into the left corner of the net.
The Wolverines then exploded five minutes into the second period. Jones started the scoring, heading in a long free kick by Matias Akers for a 2-0 advantage. Seconds later, on its next rush downfield, Edwards drove a cross from the right side that a charging Mateo Mendoza redirected into the net, giving Polk its 3-0 edge.
Jones just missed scoring again 40 seconds later, his blast from the right side banging off the left post. But he found redemption with 8:19 left in the match as East Rutherford failed to clear a Kehrer kick, with Jones splitting two defenders to snare the loose ball and quickly hit it into the back of the goal.
As solid as the Wolverines were offensively in the second half, it was the defensive stand that left Trejo smiling at night’s end.
“That’s a great accomplishment for us. I would have been just as happy if it were 2-0 as long as that zero was there,” he said. “In the first half, we were a little light, probably because we hadn’t played this week.”
With East Rutherford (3-5-1) playing its third game of the week, Trejo made some halftime adjustments to put more pressure on the Cavaliers in the second half. The early flurry proved the wisdom of those changes.
“I’m very happy with the way everybody performed. We definitely woke up in the second half,” he said. “Our defense is starting to click as they get more experience and more games. The concentration has picked up a lot on the back line.”
Polk County returns to action on Monday, traveling to Smoky Mountain.