Perhaps the full moon shining down Wednesday on W.J. Miller Field had something to do with it.
Polk County notched its fourth straight shutout, downing Madison 2-0 in a Western Highlands Conference game at G.M. Tennant Stadium that included an often chaotic, occasionally odd second half.
In their final regular-season home game of the season, the Wolverines improved to 12-9-1 overall, 8-1 in WHC play. Polk County travels to Owen on Monday with a chance to earn a share of the conference championship with a win.
Matias Akers provided Polk its offense with a pair of goals, including one midway through the second half that set the stage for some of the late drama.
A handball in the 58th minute on Madison’s goalkeeper, who had ventured a few steps outside the penalty area, led to a free kick for Polk. Akers and Isaac Edwards quickly grabbed the ball from the match referee, with Edwards setting it and tapping it to Akers, who drilled a shot as the Madison goalkeeper raced back to the goal.
The shot found the back of the net, and the heads-up play gave Polk a 2-0 edge.
During the kick, the match referee collapsed to the Miller Field grass and lay there motionless for a few seconds. Athletic trainer Brian Gill quickly raced to the official’s side, and soon the official was up and on his feet, albeit gingerly with a sore knee.
A handful of Madison players then surrounded the official, complaining about the manner of Polk’s goal, as soon did the Patriot coaching staff. Emotions ran high from that point on, with an abundance of shoves and bumps and a few yellow cards to match.
“I thought the team played really well and definitely used what we’ve done in practice,” said Polk County head coach Josh Trejo. “Our composure was very good. In the first half, it was much better. In the second half, it was still good, but we got caught up a bit in everything happening and weren’t quite as composed.
“I really enjoyed the way we moved the ball in the back. Our midfield was very composed. Overall, I liked the way we attacked. We looked more like we were moving with a purpose. We had some good combinations and really showed what we worked on yesterday in practice.”
Akers gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute, hitting a free kick from 26 yards that just dipped inside the crossbar. That goal would remain the difference on the scoreboard until his second tally in the final half.
One match now remains for Polk, the Monday showdown at Owen that could make the Wolverines co-WHC champions.
“We would love to get a share of the conference championship,” Trejo said. “We’re going to take every minute of the 40 and 80, just take it a minute at a time against a very good Owen team.”