Polk County's Taytem Johnson (13)

Polk girls rally in final 20 minutes to upend Madison

Polk County scored twice in the final 20 minutes Monday to rally for a 3-2 victory over Madison in a Western Highlands Conference girls soccer match in G.M. Tennant Stadium.

The Wolverines (3-0, 1-0) captured their conference opener with the late flurry after Madison (1-1, 0-1) built a 2-1 halftime lead.

Polk’s comeback began in the 62nd minute. Rollins Carter launched a throw-in from deep in Madison territory that bounced in the penalty area and redirectly slightly off a player and to the feet of Caelan Gaul, who ripped a hard drive from some 10-12 yards out that found the back of the net for the tying goal.

The Wolverines continued to press and were rewarded for that aggression in the 75th minute. Polk controlled a Madison goal kick, with the ball eventually reaching Gaul on the left sideline. She delivered a crossing pass that Belen Akers tapped once to her right, then hit a low rolling drive toward the left post that just evaded Madison goalkeeper Callie Aerni, giving Polk a one-goal edge with 5:17 remaining.

The Wolverines tallied first, scoring in the 16th minute. Polk’s Susannah Ashworth won a loose ball deep in the Wolverines’ end of the field and dribbled from end to end past the Madison sideline, finally ending her full-field drive with a pass to an open Scout Harmon. Harmon struck the pass with her left foot, sending a spinning shot that bounced and evaded Aerni to give Polk County a 1-0 lead.

Madison answered with two goals in a four-minute span, both coming in similar manner as Joanna Cady found an open space in the penalty area and scored. Cady’s first shot came from point-blank range, a hard drive from some 6-7 yards out, while her second minutes later came off a free ball that she garnered some 10 yards out and looped a shot just under the crossbar.

That lead would hold until Polk’s comeback.

“We struggled with their formation and intensity throughout most of the first half,” said Polk County head coach Lennox Charles. “We responded well in the second half, and I felt dominated play. The girls showed determination to get the job done.”

Another challenge awaits Polk on Wednesday as the Wolverines travel to Owen for another key WHC match.