Polk County Middle's Noah Greve (1), Charlie Jackson (14) and James Purtill (2) look to block a Smoky Mountain free kick during Monday's match.

Polk Middle blanks Smoky Mountain for coveted BRC tourney win

Lennox Charles can now add another item to his long and distinguished coaching resume – a Blue Ridge Conference Tournament victory.

Polk Middle picked up its first postseason win since 2015 on Monday, downing Smoky Mountain 2-0 in a first-round playoff matchup at Utz Field.

The win sends Polk Middle on the road Tuesday for a semfinal game at Macon Middle, the top seed in the BRC’s West Division. Macon defeated Hendersonville 4-0 on Thursday.

The quick turnaround and road trip won’t be easy for Polk, Charles said. But the veteran head coach is glad to have a chance to do it.

“This is my third year here and our first tournament win. That’s progress for us, at least since I took over,” Charles said. “We felt like we wanted to at least get one step further, then we’d deal with the back-to-back days.”

The Wolverines grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half as Manny Albarran surged into the penalty area and drew a foul. Topher Pearson took the penalty kick and calmly drilled it to give Polk the lead.

Pearson also had a hand in Polk’s second goal in the 22nd minute. Taking a long free kick from near the right sideline, Pearson’s drive curled toward the back post and teammate Eno Baker, who volleyed the pass into the net for a two-goal advantage.

Polk Middle’s defense then took over, brunting a handful of Smoky Mountain charges in the second half to preserve the shutout.

“In the first half they played with one forward, but in the second half they had three guys up there most of the time,” Charles said. “It was a lot more pressure and a lot more to defend. We had one or two shaky moments, but for the most part we played well.

“We’ve come a long way defensively from the start of the season and it showed today.”