Downed on the corners, out by the feet.
And a head or two.
Polk County Middle wasted no time Wednesday taking command of its Blue Ridge Conference Tournament quarterfinal with Hendersonville Middle, scoring two quick goals off corner kicks that built the foundation for a 4-0 victory at Utz Field.
The Wolverines (12-2-1) moved into Monday’s semifinals, where Polk will host Smoky Mountain Middle in a 4:30 p.m. match. The Mustangs defeated Brevard Middle 3-0 in their quarterfinal matchup.
Playing for the first time since last week’s 1-0 loss at Rugby, Polk Middle head coach Lennox Charles wanted to see the Wolverines build some early momentum, especially having already defeated the Bearcats twice this season.
That Polk did. Ross Dow’s corner kick in the match’s opening minutes bounced to the feet of Luke Garrison, who fired a low line drive into the net to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
Some four minutes later, a corner kick again led to a Garrison goal, this one a header bound for the net that deflected off a Hendersonville defender before crossing the goal line. That tally put Polk up 2-0 in the ninth minute.
“(The good start was important) especially after last Wednesday (at Rugby), because we went through this very scenario where we played a team the last team and beat them handily, then went up there and struggled mightily,” Charles said.
“So it was really good to get off to the quick start. One, for our confidence and to settle us down, and two, it puts doubt right back in their mind because just like us, the last time they were here, it didn’t go well. So we get off to a quick start and, hopefully, in their heads it’s like OK, here we go again.”
The Wolverines continued to put pressure on the Hendersonville defense and added to the lead in the 19th minute. Thomas Santibanez forced a takeaway in front of the Hendersonville Middle bench, grabbing possession and dribbling past a Bearcat defender. Santibanez then sent a pass deep into the left corner to Oakley Whiteside, who struck a hard line drive into the right corner with 11:50 left in the half, upping the Wolverine lead to 3-0.
Whiteside also scored the only goal of the second half, heading in a Dow corner kick.
“We had good energy, we had good focus, which I was not sure about because I’ve been getting on them the last two practices about being focused,” Charles said.
“(The second-half goal) was good to see. We talked at halftime that, hey, we get the next goal and the match is over. They get the next goal, then you’re fighting and scrapping. We went out and we got a good next goal.”