Save for the absence of a postgame celebration, Polk County’s boys soccer squad couldn’t have asked Wednesday for a better start to its Western Highlands Conference schedule.
The Wolverines tallied twice in just over a minute in the first half, then added a second-half goal en route to a 3-0 victory over Madison in WHC action at Polk County.
Lightning stopped the match with three minutes remaining, sending players, coaches and fans scurrying for the parking lot just before heavy rain pelted the pitch. The outcome, though, was no longer in doubt at that point as the Wolverines improved to 2-2 overall, 1-0 in WHC play. Madison dropped to 3-2-2, 0-1.
“You never know what you’re going to see with a conference team the first time around,” said Polk County head coach Lennox Charles. “We were not sure what to expect, though they had a couple of decent results.
“It’s a good thing that we won. I’m going to tell them tomorrow, though, since we didn’t get to talk tonight, that it’s a good win and that there’s three things we need to do to get a lot better.”
With the first half looking likely to wind down in a scoreless draw, Polk County suddenly lit up the scoreboard twice in 81 seconds.
Goalkeeper Tyler Campbell sent a kick upfield to Hunter Hilbig, who volleyed it ahead to Wil Rimer. Rimer tapped the ball past a Madison defender, then closed in on goal from the right side and knocked home a shot into the left side of the net, giving Polk a 1-0 advantage with 7:49 left in the half.
Just over a minute later, Rimer played the role of setup man, pushing a kick toward the Madison goal, with Nate Smart racing for the ball in the penalty box along with Patriot goalkeeper Max Gardner. Smart slid into the ball just ahead of Gardner, his momentum enough to push the ball past Gardner and into the net for a 2-0 Wolverine advantage.
Campbell preserved the first-half score with a nice leaping save in the final 15 seconds of the period.
Polk had a handful of scoring chances in the second half and finally converted one with 17:40 remaining. Jeremy Allsbrook’s long throw-in from the right side bounced once in the box and toward the far post, where Isaias Akers headed it home for the Wolverines’ final goal.
The Wolverines controlled the flow of play much of the game with effective passing, and while pleased with that, Charles saw room for improvement.
“That’s the one area I’m not completely happy with, only because we did a good job, but it could have been better,” he said. “We had so many opportunities where we played the ball back to the other team or made an inaccurate pass to a teammate when we weren’t being pressured. We had so many other opportunities where we gave the ball away a little too easily at times. Had we not, we might have been able to put the game away a little earlier.
“This is our second shutout, and this one was a lot more solid than the first one. When we shut out North Henderson, we were very shaky. This one was really solid.”
Polk County is back in action on Thursday, hosting West Henderson, with varsity play set to begin around 5:30 p.m.