Newton-Conover makes early goal stand in ending Wolverines’ season
CONOVER – The beginning proved the end Wednesday night for Polk County’s girls soccer squad.
Less than six minutes into its state 2A playoff clash with the Wolverines, Newton-Conover scored the game’s first and only goal, notching a 1-0 victory that brought a third-round playoff exit for Polk County for the fifth consecutive season.
The Wolverines (19-6-1) overcame the shaky start and dominated play much of the night, but could never get the equalizing goal, allowing Newton-Conover (18-3) to advance to Saturday’s fourth round and a home game with Parkwood.
“We talked about that they might come out and show us a different formation,” said Polk County head coach Lennox Charles. “We struggled with that until we figured out what we should have been doing in that first 10 minutes.
“Once we adjusted, we were fine and we created some chances. We had the two best chances of the game, one from four yards and one from two yards. If we could have scored on either of those, it’s a different game.”
Newton-Conover missed its first scoring opportunity just two and a half minutes into the game, but made good on the second. Sophomore Chaniece Ross took possession of the ball near the top of the penalty area, dribbled to her left, then reversed field and created a bit of space as she moved to her right. She then launched a rocket from near the right corner of the box that bent into the left corner of the net, the goal with 33:36 left in the first half giving the Red Devils their 1-0 lead.
With goalkeeper Kara Overholt stopping what few chances Newton-Conover had the rest of the half, Polk County began to turn the tide in its favor, consistently pushing the ball into the Devils’ half of the field. That effort nearly paid off in the 28th minute as the Wolverines had a flurry of shots on goal, including a chip from Ellese Cash at close range that hit the crossbar and bounced away. The Wolverines also just missed scoring in the final seconds of the half.
At times in both the first and second halves, Polk County put all three of its forwards on the field, with Cash, Sammie Firby and Ashley Love all looking for a scoring chance. Newton-Conover responded by packing its defense around the net, and the Wolverines never truly had a great scoring look in the final 40 minutes.
“We dominated in the second half,” Charles said. “They got the ball back there a few times, but I bet we had the ball in their half of the field 25 of thr 40 minutes, at least. We just couldn’t create any chances.
“They had the lead, and every time we got the ball up there, there were white shirts everywhere.”