Paul Dunbar's 2-0 victory over Woodford County in the boys' 11th Region soccer finals proved to be sweet.
Sweet because, with Saturday's win, the Bulldogs are back where they were a year ago — in the Sweet Sixteen.
No. 2 Dunbar (22-3) will take a seven-match winning streak into Tuesday's 7 p.m. sub-section home contest against No. 9 Mercer County.
"Mercer County — great team, has got some great players," Dunbar Coach Todd Bretz said. "A real tough matchup, but hopefully we'll come out and just do our best."
The Bulldogs offered their best in Saturday's contest at Henry Clay, scoring on a pair of second-half set pieces.
Nick DiMeo headed in Riley Calhoon's corner kick with 27:34 left, and Matthew Spanyer cleaned up off a rebound of another Calhoon corner kick with 22:39 to play.
"We did well on those (set plays). We didn't really have a lot of great opportunities because they're so well organized and such a good team," Bretz said. "We've got to take advantage of those opportunities when you get them because you don't get many chances against a team like that."
The 11th-ranked Yellowjackets (17-5-2) had fewer chances against a Dunbar back line anchored by captains DiMeo and Davoud Saghaian.
"They were really good. They played a great game and they were coming at us," Saghaian said. "But when we organized well and when we communicated, we were able to keep them at bay. But they had their chances and we got lucky a couple of times."
Woodford just missed connecting on at least five crosses, including a couple that were broken up by goalkeeper Fernando Ortiz.
"It's a real big shame because they didn't miss their chances. And we did. And at the end of the day it comes down to those things," Jackets Coach Fonyam Atanga said. "It's a bit unfortunate really but, in the grand scheme of things, the team with more quality overall won.
"I couldn't be prouder of my team for how hard we fought, even to the last seconds of the game, knowing all we can get is maybe one goal with a minute left. But we kept fighting, so I couldn't be prouder."
Goalie Dylan Spencer, who finished with five saves, kept things scoreless until DiMeo connected on the back post.
"We always have really good services," DiMeo said. "Riley always plays great balls and I just happened to be there, down in front of my man, and just headed it home."
Spanyer was next, pouncing on a rebound and launching a laser from just outside the 18-yard line.
With Dunbar's defense on task, 2-0 was too deep a hole for the Jackets to escape.
"They're a great team, and it was a real battle defensively," DiMeo said. "We just happened to be a little more technical in front of the goal and really just got two, and the defense held strong."
Dunbar 2, Woodford County 0
Goals—D: Nick DiMeo, Matthew Spanyer. Goalkeepers—WC: Dylan Spencer; D: Fernando Ortiz. Records—WC: 17-5-2; D: 22-3.
All-tournament team—Cameron Boone (Henry Clay); Drew Taylor (Madison Southern); Andrew Wylie (Model); Cameron Cool (Scott Co.); Austin Sutcliffe, Micky Nsiah (Franklin Co.); Jackson Rowady, Danny Veach (Lexington Catholic); Raul Sanchez, Jacob Phillips, Dylan Spencer (Woodford Co.); Guillermo Clemente, Riley Calhoon, Davoud Saghaian (Dunbar). MVP—Nathan Jones (Dunbar).
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com