Coach Tim Bernardi already knew the answer to his question before he asked it, but he wanted to drive home a point.
“When was the last time you guys beat Dunbar?” he asked his 12 seniors earlier this week.
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“Never,” was the answer.
That all changed Thursday night in the Fayette County Soccer Spectacular as fourth-ranked Henry Clay downed No. 8 Paul Dunbar 3-0 at Tates Creek.
“This one is very satisfying,” senior Jake Hender said after the win, the Devils first since 2002. They tied Dunbar last season.
It was supposed to be a close game, but in less than two minutes, the Devils had done in Dunbar.
Henry Clay scored 13 minutes into the game as Jordan Manley sprinted past a line of defenders and rocketed a shot into the goal.
“We had to get a goal in early,” said Manley, a senior. “We wanted to bring their spirits down right at the beginning so they couldn’t get them back up again.”
A minute and a half later, the Bulldogs’ Nick Marnatti was called for a trip in the box and Philip Manga scored on the penalty kick. Next, Manga sent a beautiful cross to Oscar Alcaraz, who headed it in past the feet of Dunbar keeper Joe Osborn with 25 minutes left in the first half.
“We were clicking on all cylinders to start the game,” Bernardi said. “The guys were pumped up and ready to go. Having an opening like we did was amazing.”
Paul Dunbar struggled to get up off the mat after the early Henry Clay barrage.
The Bulldogs played frustrated all game and were assessed five yellow cards to just one for the Devils.
“They’re an explosive team and they capitalized on a great opportunity they created,” Coach Todd Bretz said. “They put the pedal to the metal and came after us and we didn’t respond well.”
Henry Clay’s defense, which returned four starters, held Dunbar to just one shot on goal in the first half and five for the game.
All but one of those shots came on set shots.
“We’ve got to find a way to get players in positions to be a threat,” said Bretz, who will have to wait at least one more game to get his 300th career win. The Bulldogs will face No. 5 Manual in Saturday’s round-robin action.
Bernardi was pleased with his defense’s performance.
“We rely on them a lot back there,” Bernardi said. “The defense was phenomenal. We challenged them to get a shutout at halftime and they did it.”
He was most pleased with how his seniors performed.
“They rose to the occasion and showed the kind of team they want to be,” he said.
Manual 4, Madison Central 0: The fifth-ranked Crimsons broke open a close game by scoring three goals in the second half to get their first win of the season. Dino Sefer scored in the first half before goals from senior Ryan Garvey, junior Ben Rathrow and sophomore Asa Miller completed the scoring.
Manual 4, Madison Central 0
Goals—Dino Sefer, Ryan Garvey, Ben Rathrow, Asa Miller. Goalkeepers—M: Zach Torp; MC: Jarred Isaacs, Josh Jones.
Records—Manual 1-0-1, Madison Central 0-2.
Henry Clay 3, Paul Dunbar 0
Goals—HC: Jordan Manley, Philip Manga, Oscar Alcarez. Goalkeepers—HC: Miguel Andrade; PLD: Joe Osborn, Andrew VonNeida.
Records—Paul Dunbar 1-1, Henry Clay 1-0-1.