Welcome to soccer in February, where the chills aren’t just from the freezing wind whipping across the pitch.
At least not Monday at Utz Field, where Eno Baker’s goal with 2:29 remaining in regulation gave Polk County Middle a 2-1 victory over Flat Rock Middle in a Blue Ridge Conference match.
The timely goal earned Polk Middle (2-1) a victory it certainly deserved. The Wolverines controlled the flow of play and kept possession in Flat Rock’s half of the field for the majority of both halves, though Flat Rock did punch across an early goal and led 1-0 at intermission.
Perhaps just as importantly, Baker’s tally helped prevent an overtime that no one wanted on an afternoon with temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting enough to keep the Utz Field flagpole swaying.
“I’m going to have to go to church on Sunday,” one observer said after the match. “I was praying hard for a goal.”
Baker delivered the match-winner on a perfect corner kick from Blake Anderson, the cross finding Baker near the back post and behind three Flat Rock defenders. Baker soared to meet the pass and placed his header into the left corner of the net, following the shot into the net for good measure.
The Wolverines set the stage for the late-match heroics on a goal with 18:18 remaining, that coming courtesy of Manny Albarran, who corralled a Flat Rock goal kick some 30 yards out and immediately sent it back toward the goal, the ball skipping on one hop into the net to tie the match.
Baker then nearly put Polk ahead with 11:29 remaining, hitting a drive that clanged noisily off the post.
Flat Rock’s lone tally came in the ninth minute of the match, but the Eagles (0-3) had few other solid scoring opportunities as Polk Middle’s defense kept Flat Rock’s attack at bay.
Polk Middle is slated to return to action on Wednesday, traveling to Brevard Middle for a 4 p.m. match.