Playing with energy, intelligence and purpose, the Tates Creek girls' soccer team celebrated Senior Night with a 3-1 victory over Paul Dunbar.
Wednesday's match had more than good vibes riding on the outcome, though.
The win seals the No. 1 seed in district play for the second-ranked Lady Commodores (15-0-3). Undefeated, they have won eight in a row and finish district play 4-0.
"Senior Night kind of got us all excited and I think going out with such a rush, it just worked itself out," said Destinie Graves, a senior, who started the scoring 2:21 into the match. "I feel a lot of pressure with the no losses but a lot less pressure being the No. 1 seed."
"Oh, my gosh, it's awesome," added junior back Abby Van Bussum. "We've been working for this forever."
No. 18 Dunbar (11-7) could have had the district top seed but instead wound up 2-2. The Lady Bulldogs had won their previous two matches and seven of eight.
"I think that the district is very competitive and there's a lot riding on the district," Dunbar Coach Emily Coleman said.
Goals by Graves, senior Shelby Williams and junior Mallory Eubanks put Dunbar in a 3-0 hole less than 171/2 minutes into the match.
"Very fast, very physical," Coleman said. "We were playing defensive, and we should be playing more offensive."
Creek, which beat Dunbar 4-2 on Aug. 18 in the Fayette County Frenzy, got a jump-start from Graves. After taking a ball in, she was impeded by the defense but got another touch off a volley and fired low inside the far post.
"It's a big game for us and I'm really glad we got the job done," Graves said.
Eubanks' corner kick went to Williams, who headed in the second goal at 9:55.
Graves assisted on Eubanks' goal, from the left edge of the goal box, at 17:11.
Creek's defense, anchored by juniors Van Bussum and Katie Workman, did the rest. The Commodores outshot Dunbar 27-6, with senior Arly Lankster called on to make only two saves. Counterpart Kristen Cruse stopped 10 shots.
"Me and Katie, we've been working together a lot. We play on the same club team," Van Bussum said. "We just try to be strong back there and hold it down."
Dunbar's goal, by McKenzie Nichols, came on a penalty kick with 3:07 left in the first half.
"It was a special performance," Creek Coach Bo Lankster said. "Whenever you have a senior night, you want the team to play well and obviously you want to win.
"But it was some of the best soccer we've played all season, so that was nice to see. Dunbar has been having a great year, a great run of games. To do this against a very good team makes it even that more special, and I'm just so proud of the girls. They really played a complete game tonight."
Tates Creek 3, Paul Dunbar 1
Goals—D: McKenzie Nichols; TC: Destinie Graves, Shelby Williams, Mallory Eubanks. Goalkeepers—D: Kristen Cruse; TC: Arly Lankster. Records—D: 11-7; TC: 15-0-3.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com