As has often been the case this season for Polk County, the scoreboard at game’s end Thursday evening did not reflect how well the Wolverines played.
In this case, though, the G.M. Tennant Stadium display did show a Polk County victory.
Without doubt, the Wolverines’ 1-0 victory over Brevard served as the side’s best effort of the season, Polk controlling play for long stretches of the evening in handing the Blue Devils a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference setback.
Brevard (10-5-4, 8-3) entered in second place in the conference race. The Blue Devils returned to Transylvania County with their proverbial forked tails between their legs after a dominant showing by the Wolverines (4-13-2, 4-6-2), who could just as easily have won by four or five goals.
“Short of our problems finishing, this is definitely the best performance we have had,” said Polk County head coach Lennox Charles. “We have been progressing in terms of play, but we just haven’t had the results to show for it.”
Thursday’s result certainly showcased the improvements that the Wolverines have made this season. Polk connected passes on surges upfield, leading to scoring opportunities. The Wolverines avoided defensive breakdowns, easing the pressure on goalkeeper Maggie McCammon. They did well many of the little things that Charles has stressed all season.
The only thing lacking for much of the evening was a goal; Polk didn’t have one for three-quarters of the match, though not for a lack of trying. The Wolverines hit multiple shots off the crossbar, had one certain goal stopped by a Brevard defender racing in behind the goalkeeper and generally made pressure on the Blue Devil defense a constant.
The breakthrough finally came in the 64th minute after Susanna Ashworth drew a foul a couple of steps above the top of the penalty area. Ashworth took the free kick and hit a high arcing drive that cleared the scrum in front of goal and nestled into the back of the net, giving the Wolverines their first lead.
Brevard did manage a couple of good looks at goal in the final 10 minutes, but McCammon turned all aside to preserve the shutout and win.
“We are still struggling to finish,” Charles said. “That game could easily have been 4-0. Against Patton, we finished tied 0-0 and we should have had four or five goals there. Against R-S Central, we lost 2-1 and probably could have won that game.
“Our margins have been so small. But when you’re struggling, those margins seem so much bigger. The sad thing is, with three more wins, all of the sudden we’re at seven wins and we’ve given ourselves a chance at making the playoffs.”
With the 42nd-ranked RPI in the 2A West field as of Friday morning, Polk County isn’t going to earn an at-large berth for the 2A state playoffs. But Polk has non-conference games remaining next week against East Henderson and Owen, and Charles sees just as much on the line for the Wolverines as if Polk was in the hunt for a postseason trip.
“Can we put two more finishes together like this?” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the final score is, if we put together two finishes together like this, that’s going to go a long way in carrying us into the offseason in a lot better frame of mind.”