Polk seniors lead second-half surge past Avery

Polk County’s girls soccer program honored its seniors Wednesday and then watched that group give them a reason to celebrate.

Locked in a halftime tie with Avery, all 10 of the Wolverines’ seniors took the field for the second half and made certain Senior Night would be one to remember, scoring three second-half goals for a 4-1 victory in G.M. Tennant Stadium.

It didn’t feel like a late April match, with temperatures in the 40s and strong winds gusting from the outset. And perhaps it didn’t feel, at least in the first half, as a match unfolding as Polk County (7-2-1, 5-2) might have expected against a one-win Avery team.

But the Vikings (1-7, 1-6) entered off their two best showings of the season, a 9-0 rout of Mountain Heritage and a tough 2-0 loss to Western Highlands Conference-leading Madison, and continued that momentum early.

Polk County had numerous scoring chances in the first half, but Avery tallied first in the 29th minute as Marisol Guzman gained possession during a scramble in front of the net and hit a looping chip shot that cleared Polk goalkeeper Sara Muse, giving the Vikings a 1-0 lead.

But the Wolverines finally found the back of the net in the 36th minute. Avery failed to clear a goal kick from its end, with Caelan Gaul stopping the boot some 20 yards out. The ball was deflected to Scout Harmon, who flicked a pass back to a wide-open Gaul. She quickly a hit a low drive that curled inside the near post to tie the match.

A halftime ceremony recognized the 10 Wolverine seniors, and then that group went to work. Harmon gave Polk the lead for good in the 51st minute, collecting the rebound from a Gaul drive that richocheted off the far post and tapping it into an open net.

A goal kick also led to Polk’s next goal, that in the 59th minute. Madi Smith deflected the kick to Harmon, who quickly directed a short pass to Belen Akers, who had split two Avery defenders. That gave Akers a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and she calmly dribbled in, waited for the keeper to commit and hit a drive from the left wing that nestled into the right side of the net for a 3-1 advantage.

The senior group added one more tally four minutes later as Madison Geddings drove deep into the right side of the penalty area and hit a cross that found Harmon alone in front of the net, her left-footed redirect of that pass bouncing into the goal for the final score of the evening.

Polk County now gears up for the final week of hte regular season, traveling Monday to Mitchell before hosting Mountain Heritage on Wednesday.