On a cool October night, play promised to be heated Tuesday in the girls' 43rd District soccer semifinals at Lexington Christian.
All four teams were among the top 25 in the state.
In the opener, No. 9 Lexington Catholic used a second-half explosion to subdue No. 16 Dunbar 5-1.
Then, undefeated and second-ranked Tates Creek blanked No. 23 LCA 2-0.
Catholic and Creek will meet in the finals Thursday at 7 p.m. Creek beat Catholic 2-1 in overtime on Aug. 27.
Catholic 5, Dunbar 1: Mary Beth Gorham tallied two goals and two assists as the Lady Knights (13-7-2) won for the eighth time in nine matches.
Younger sister Sarah Gorham also scored, as did Josie Metzger and Hailey Maier.
Catholic dominated play in the first half, scoring first when Metzger headed in Mary Beth Gorham's corner kick 11:04 into the match.
Yet, Dunbar forged a 1-1 tie at intermission.
Outshot 12-1 at the time, the Bulldogs tied when Kathryn Perry buried a shot with 7:15 left.
"I'd say out of the 80 minutes, we played 70 really strong minutes, and we had those 10 minutes when Dunbar just controlled the game," Catholic Coach Terry Quigley said. "They scored and they were putting pressure on us after that. We kind of limped into halftime. But the second half, the girls really responded."
Just 42 seconds after the break, Sarah Gorham, a junior, hit her senior sister with a pass to trigger a breakaway.
Mary Beth, who will play for Bellarmine University next year, ripped a winning shot.
Dunbar (11-8-1) kept it close until Catholic ticked off three goals in little more than four minutes to make it 5-1.
"That was a little scary because they had done that to us before ... and scared us," Mary Beth Gorham said. "And coming back to tie it (at halftime). But, thankfully we came back and pulled through."
The Gorham sisters assisted as each scored a goal, and Maier finished the flurry.
"Catholic's got a good team and the Gorham sisters are very strong, and they work well off one another," Dunbar Coach Emily Coleman said. "It's tough to keep containing them for 80 minutes."
Tates Creek 2, LCA 0: Elaine Simpson and Ashley Whaley scored as the Commodores (16-0-4) posted their ninth shutout of the year.
"We approached the game very businesslike. We knew what they were going to try to do against us," Creek Coach Bo Lankster said. "We didn't play outside of ourselves or try to do anything different. We just kept the pressure on them, and we knew that they had a lot of really nice players that could get goals for them and make problems for us, so we wanted to keep the ball away from them."
Simpson's goal 1:11 into the match gave Creek a 1-0 halftime lead.
Whaley made it 2-0 with 34:56 left, charging in from the back post to head in Mallory Eubanks' corner kick.
"Coach has always got us working on corner kicks. I'm just glad there was someone there to finish," Eubanks said. "LCA played really well. Our team's been working for this for a long time. ... It was really a good game from both teams."
LCA (12-6-2), the All "A" state champ, kept things tight despite being outshot, unofficially, 20-2.
"It was a great season. We just ran into a machine tonight, and they were a step ahead of us all night long," Coach Steve Fugmann said. "You've got to give credit to Bo. ... They play clean soccer. And it's all we could do."
Lexington Catholic 5, Dunbar 1
Goals—D: Kathryn Perry; LC: Josie Metzger, Mary Beth Gorham 2, Sarah Gorham, Hailey Maier. Goalkeepers—D: Kristen Cruse; LC: Olivia Meck, Sarah Youkilis. Records—D: 11-8-1; LC: 13-7-2.
Tates Creek 2, Lexington Christian 0
Goals—TC: Elaine Simpson, Ashley Whaley. Goalkeepers—LCA: Elizabeth Farmer; TC: Arly Lankster. Records—LCA: 12-7-2; TC: 16-0-4.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com