The tops seeds advanced, although not easily, as the boys' 42nd District soccer tournament opened Monday night at Henry Clay.
No. 2 seed Scott County scored twice in the last 19 minutes to rally for a 2-1 win over No. 3 seed Bryan Station.
Henry Clay, the top seed and ranked No. 8 in the state, edged fourth-seeded Sayre 2-0 in the nightcap, with temperatures dipping into the 40s.
The finals are set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Henry Clay blanked Scott County 2-0 on Sept. 27.
Scott Co. 2, Bryan Station 1: The Defenders gave the Cardinals a scare as John Grigsby broke a scoreless tie less than five minutes into the second half.
With both teams battling injuries, though, it was Scott's time to survive and advance.
"Very scary," Coach David Sledd said. "We were very limited. I've got four or five guys — starters and key players — that are injured. ... By the time we got to the end of the game, I pretty much had one sub."
Cameron Cool got the equalizer with 18:34 left. After putting a short-range shot off the crossbar, he headed the rebound into the net.
"We played hard. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce the way you want it to," Bryan Station Coach Dan Hacker said. "We had a couple critical injuries and some mental errors defensively. With a team like Scott you can't let down at all. You let down for one second and they capitalize on it."
Just over four minutes later, Cool dribbled on the right side to near the end line, then crossed the ball off a Defender. The carom went to Drew Crum, who buried the shot.
Scott County (12-4) also beat Bryan Station 3-2 during the regular season.
The Defenders (7-6-3) came into the tourney unbeaten in their last six (4-0-2).
Henry Clay 2, Sayre 0: The Blue Devils (11-4-4) got a first-half goal from Aime Mabika and an own goal in the second period.
Mabika, a freshman who emigrated six years ago from Zambia, chipped the ball in after an improbable pass made it to his feet.
"I was just making the run just in case it slipped past the goalie's hands and, if didn't, it wouldn't hurt. And it did," Mabika said. "So I was just there."
The Blue Devils scored with 21:32 left when a Sayre defender, on the run, inadvertently headed the ball in.
The Spartans (5-10) played well and had several chances. Their last good look came with 4:40 left, when Jack Simon's shot from the edge of the 18 was stopped by goalkeeper David Vasquez.
"We've got a lot of seniors and we had a good game plan, and it was working. Just got unlucky, really, on those two goals," Sayre Coach Joe Porter said. "... I thought we played really well. Outplayed them for parts of the match and gave them everything we could. You can't ask for anything else."
Henry Clay blanked the Spartans 4-0 on Sept. 18.
"We were expecting a tough game," Henry Clay Coach Tim Bernardi said. "We were talking about 'somebody's going home tonight.' Any time you have a group of kids that know it's (potentially) their last game, they're going to play you tough. We expected it — they're a good team."
John Paul Jikang and Vasquez combined for the shutout.
Scott County 2, Bryan Station 1
Goals—BS: John Grigsby; SC: Cameron Cool, Drew Crum. Goalkeepers—BS: Devante Jiles; SC: Tyler Zimmerman. Records—BS: 7-6-3; SC: 11-5.
Henry Clay 2, Sayre 0
Goals—HC: Aime Mabika, own goal. Goalkeepers—S: Taylor Acree; HC: John Paul Jikang, David Vasquez. Records—S: 5-10; HC: 11-4-4.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com