It seemed at times Wednesday that Polk County might not find a way to get a second goal past Madison’s Timothy Gray.
The Wolverines kept peppering the Patriot goalkeeper with tough chances, and Gray kept turning them aside. A high drive from Grayson Jones deflected over the top bar. A diving save of a Matias Akers shot. Another grab of an Akers header.
But Gaige Lewis finally looped a shot over Gray with just under 19 minutes left in Polk’s Western Highlands Conference opener, setting the stage for a 3-1 Wolverine win in G.M. Tennant Stadium.
Polk County (9-2, 1-0) wanted to make a statement in its league opener, and the Wolverines did just that, though it took some time.
Isaac Edwards’ first-half goal helped the teams reach the half tied at 1. Gray helped keep it that way for some time thereafter.
“Their keeper was phenomenal,” said Polk County head coach Josh Trejo. “He kept making phenomenal saves and kept Madison in the game.”
That changed in the 72nd minute when Lewis corralled a free ball in the center of the field some 25 yards out. He lifted a shot that arced and dipped just below the top bar, giving the Wolverines their first lead.
Akers made certain that lead would hold in the 76th minute, driving deep into the right side of the penalty area and hitting a low line drive that found the back of the net.
“We knew what they were capable of when we saw they beat Owen 2-1,” Trejo said. “We knew coming in they were going to be a more dominant team than in previous years.
“In the first few minutes we made some mistakes, and that cost us a goal. But this was a solid win. We have a lot of things to work on. We can’t come out flat like we did early.”
Save for the early tally, Polk County’s defense largely kept Madison safely at bay, with Wolverine goalkeeper Greyson Ball recording four saves.
Polk County will hit the road on Monday for a key conference game at Owen.