Paul Laurence Dunbar was the only city team that played Henry Clay and didn’t lose in the regular season. The Bulldogs came away with a 1-1 draw and a share of the city title on the Blue Devils’ senior night about three weeks ago.
Henry Clay remembered that night — as well as their most recent postseason encounter with the Bulldogs — when it took the field and claimed a 2-1 victory in the first round of the girls’ 11th Region soccer tournament Monday night at Woodford County.
When the programs last met in the 11th Region tournament, Dunbar came away with a 1-0 shootout win in the finals. Henry Clay’s win Tuesday was as much fueled by that memory as the tie a few weeks ago.
“My freshman year we lost to them on PKs so we wanted revenge,” said junior Sara Ueland, who scored the Blue Devils’ go-ahead goal in the 68th minute off an assist from fellow junior Ruby Kate Gray. “It was really nice to get back at them.”
Ueland was quick to express some displeasure at having Dunbar ousted from the field.
“I love all the girls all their team,” she said. “They played such a good game. If there’s any team I would love to lose to, it would be them.”
That alternate reality seemed like a possibility after Dunbar’s Baylee Lanter scored an equalizer in the 55th minute after a ball from Calahan Stokley came sailing from the opposite side of the field and ricocheted off Lanter’s body into the net.
Henry Clay led 1-0 at halftime thanks to an Annie Cox header off a well-placed corner kick in the 20th minute. She was briefly in disbelief.
“I didn’t even really realize that it hit off my head at first,” Cox said with a grin. “I knew that it happened but I didn’t think it went in, but it did so it felt really amazing.”
The Blue Devils will meet Madison Central, which defeated Franklin County 1-0, in the semifinals on Thursday. The Indians ousted Henry Clay from last year’s tournament.
“That’ll be a good game,” Ueland said. “I think it’ll be rough. We’ll have to play as hard as we did here and bring it. Everyone needs to show up and play their hardest.”
Henry Clay 2, Paul Laurence Dunbar 1
G—HC: Cox, Ueland. PD: Lanter.
GK—HC: Patton. PD: Turcotte.
Records: Henry Clay 15-2-1, Paul Laurence Dunbar 13-7-2.