As the clock spilled over into the 83rd minute, Pedro Jimenez delivered the golden goal for Paul Laurence Dunbar in a 1-0 victory over Lafayette in the 43rd District boys’ soccer championship game Thursday night at Tates Creek.
Dunbar was able to draw Lafayette’s keeper out just far enough to free up Jimenez for a game-ending header off a deflection. The win gave Dunbar its seventh straight district championship.
The Bulldogs will enter the 11th Region as a No. 1 seed. Lafayette will be paired off against another No. 1 seed when the draw is held this weekend.
“Effort, effort, effort,” Jimenez said of his game-winner. “Like coach tells me all the time, ‘If you put in effort it’s gonna pay off at the end.’ It felt amazing.”
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Jimenez’s shot was the sixth for the Bulldogs on a night that saw both teams come up with few scoring opportunities. Lafayette finished with five, unofficially.
“It was an even game,” Dunbar Coach Todd Bretz said. “Both teams had a couple good chances. Both teams’ defenses I thought played pretty well. It could have gone either way.”
Bulldogs keeper Josh Szydlik made a leaping save to help force extra time. Gavin Burt delivered a well-placed ball to Evan Bunch, who bounced it off the back of his head for what would have been the winning goal in regulation. Szydlik met the ball with right hand just in time for the save.
He didn’t think he was going to make it.
“It was scary,” Szydlik said with a laugh. “I visualized saves before the game and that was one I never thought to visualize. It just came. I don’t even know what happened exactly.”
It was Lafayette’s first loss to a Lexington opponent this season and only its second to an 11th Region team. The Generals had an 11-game win streak snapped, which included a 1-0 win at Dunbar on Sept. 20.
Lafayette Coach Chris Grimm thought Szydlik was going to be late, too.
“Their goalkeeper made an awesome save,” Grimm said. “I thought it was going in.”
Grimm expected a battle and the Generals got one. That’s the type of game it should expect the rest of the season, he said.
“Nothing’s easy in our region,” Grimm said. “ … This game tonight was very meaningful in that regard. We’re not going to be happy to see any of those (one seeds).
“I’m sure they won’t be happy to see us with the season we’ve had but that’s just the way it is. Every game will be a battle in the region no matter who you play.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar 1, Lafayette 0 (OT)
G—PD: Jimenez (83’).
GK—PD: Szydlik. L: Medina.
Records: Paul Laurence Dunbar 13-4-2, Lafayette 16-5-1.