Woodford County and Dunbar used different scripts to pull out one-goal victories Thursday in the semifinals of the 11th Region boys' soccer tournament at Henry Clay.
Woodford came from behind in the closing minutes to edge Lexington Catholic 2-1.
In the nightcap, Nathan Jones scored 9:01 into the match to lead Dunbar to a 1-0 win over Franklin County.
No. 11 Woodford and No. 2 Dunbar will vie for the region title Saturday at 1 p.m.
"We played Dunbar early in the season. They beat us 3-1," Woodford Coach Fonyam Atanga said. "We always collect statistics at every game; we looked at the stats — it was a really evenly matched game, except for they were more clinical in front of the goal. So I think we have as good a chance as they have ... to win that region final. I can't wait to play that game."
Woodford Co. 2, Lexington Catholic 1: The Yellowjackets stormed from behind in the final 11:15.
Michael Ethington headed in the winner with 2:52 left, off Zach Blaydes' corner kick.
"I was supposed to run front post, and I got there and ended up scoring," Ethington said. "I was kind of lucky — the ball went over the first defender and I got to it."
No. 17 Catholic (10-7-4) struck with about 20 minutes left, when Tom Draper crossed to wide-open Ini Okpokho for a goal-mouth tap in.
"I wasn't expecting to even go down," Ethington said. "so it was just kind of frightening."
Jackets goalie Dylan Spencer, who finished with five saves, wouldn't let another shot in, though.
Woodford (17-4-2) tied with 11:15 left, with Freddie Siegelman slipping a 20-yard shot low into the left corner.
Then, Ethington tallied.
"We've been working on specific set pieces and ... we were all back post, and I just had a feeling. I just called 'one.'" Atanga said. "And we ran the 'one' play, and Michael got it. Incredible stuff."
Catholic lost 3-0 to the Jackets on Aug. 16, but Danny Veach kept the Knights in Thursday's rematch, leaping to punch back-to-back first-half shots up and over the crossbar.
"We were in it. We just couldn't finish; couldn't finish the game. That was the problem," Knights Coach Jonathan Kincheloe said. "But I'm proud of the seniors. They did a great job.
"That's a good team. They're going to have a great chance on Saturday. If they come out of this region, they'll represent this region well. I'm real proud of the boys."
Dunbar 1, Franklin 0: The Bulldogs (21-3) capitalized on a corner-kick rebound.
Earlier, Jones put a shot off the right post.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking. But we got the corner," Jones said. "There was a big scuffle and I just saw it right in front of me, and I just put it in — right up in the top of the net."
The Flyers (13-7-2) lost 5-0 to Dunbar on Sept. 25. However, Franklin was missing several players due to injury, while Dunbar finished with a flurry. So, the floodgates did not open when Jones scored Thursday.
"They're too good a team. ... We knew it was going to be a tight game," Dunbar Coach Todd Bretz said. "They're a very good team, they're well-coached, so we knew it was going to be a nail-biter all the way."
Dunbar had several chances to stretch the lead. Jones headed a shot just over the crossbar with 13½ minutes left. Guillermo Clemente banged a shot off the crossbar with about 4½ to play.
Franklin's best look against Dunbar 'keeper Fernando Ortiz came with just under 30 minutes left, when Rolman Delgado hit the crossbar.
Delgado also went down in the penalty box during the first half. Yellow cards went to Franklin's Logan Doris and Angel Rodriguez, who protested that no foul was called.
Franklin later added three yellows — two by Nick Compston, which left the Flyers a man short for the final 10:21.
"We knew we could play with them; we knew we could give them a match," Franklin Coach Zac Donnelly said. "We believed we could win the game, stepping out on the field, and we gave them a run for their money this evening. ... I'm very proud of the way Franklin County played."
Woodford County 2, Lexington Catholic 1
Goals—LC: Ini Okpokho; WC: Freddie Siegelman, Michael Ethington. Goalkeepers—LC: Danny Veach; WC: Dylan Spencer. Records—LC: 10-7-4; WC: 17-4-2.
Dunbar 1, Franklin County 0
Goal—D: Nathan Jones. Goalkeepers—FC: Nathan Kring, Alex Hydes; D: Fernando Ortiz. Records—FC: 13-7-2; D: 21-3.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com