Polk scores early and often in season-opening rout of Pisgah

Josh Trejo’s message to his Polk County squad in a preseason unlike any preceding a season unlike any has been simple – play every game as if it’s your last, because it could well be.

If Tuesday is any indication, the Wolverines have taken that direction to mean score early, score often.

That Polk County did in its season opener, tallying three times in the first 15 minutes and continuing to find the net on a regular basis in a 10-1 victory over Pisgah in G.M. Tennant Stadium.

Cameron Greve, Matias Akers and Mateo Mendoza each scored in Polk’s opening surge, and Akers connected again later in the opening half as Polk led 4-1 at the break. The margin could have been much larger without several sterling saves by Pisgah goalkeeper Alex Almaraz, who had a very busy evening.

The Wolverines, though, unleashed a torrent of shots in the second half and kept the scoreboard ticking. Mendoza and Akers each finished with three goals, with Wylie Rauschenbach, Braxton Edwards and Adam Kehrer also joining the scoring.

“The boys played a lot better than what I was expecting with everything going on in sports due to COVID,” Trejo said. “I guess expect the unexpected.

“I was very impressed with the first half. I thought we moved the ball well, we looked ready, full of energy during the first half. We communicated well, challenged balls in the air and anticipated passes. We looked as if we had trained for the extra 10 days.”

Polk County’s Elliott Whiteside pushes forward toward the Pisgah goal during the first half of Tuesday’s match

The preseason proved challenging for Polk County as Trejo and several players were in quarantine at times due to close contact with COVID-positive individuals. The Wolverines had just two full practices before Tuesday’s opener, making the result even more impressive.

That may also have been a factor in a second half that turned into an offensive free-for-all, with the Wolverines pressing to score goals against a tiring Pisgah defense.

“Players wanted to score, and I could tell because we threw away any form of shape and started just to send everyone on runs to score,” Trejo said. “I didn’t like the fact that we didn’t stay disciplined and keep our shape and move the ball more.

“I know everyone wanted to score, but sometimes you gotta see the bigger picture. But that’s something we can work on with more time on the practice field.”

Akers had two assists, with Mendoza, Greve, Elliott Whiteside and Jack Smith also each adding an assist.

Polk County continues its three-game homestand to open the season on Thursday, facing a Smoky Mountain team that opened its season on Tuesday with a 3-3 draw with Owen.

“I am very grateful that we are able to play,” Trejo said. “We are not promised a season and we need to enjoy every second with no regrets.

“I’m happy the boys got a win tonight. It will be a big confidence booster going into Thursday’s game.”

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