As far as Paul Laurence Dunbar is concerned, it's 1-0 this season.
That was the post-game mantra after the Bulldogs defeated Lafayette 2-1 in the 43rd District semifinals Tuesday night at the Generals' Ishmael Stadium.
Dunbar earned the opportunity to win its sixth straight district title along with an automatic berth to the 11th Region Tournament.
The Bulldogs have advanced to the state tournament six straight seasons (the first berth in that streak coming as a member of the 14th Region).
Never miss a local story.
Lafayette beat Dunbar in "every facet of the game" when the teams met a month ago, Bulldogs Coach Todd Bretz said. The 2-1 final in that one didn't reflect how strong the Generals were that night.
"We knew if we didn't step up and challenge Lafayette, they're a really good team, and they would run us off the field again," Bretz said.
The Bulldogs were aggressive in the first half and were rewarded with two goals.
Ricky Clemente struck first, capitalizing on a bit of miscommunication between the Tates Creek keeper and the defender closest to Clemente in the 17th minute. The keeper had moved up and left space on the weak side, where a cross from Nathan Irving landed at Clemente's feet which he easily laid into the net.
Getting that goal early was a confidence booster for himself and the team, Clemente said.
"It got us more excited and energetic," he said. "It helped us out a lot."
Javier Delgado gave the Bulldogs a second goal off a deflection in the 25th minute.
"I just saw it in the air, so I didn't think about it and just took the shot," Delgado said, grinning.
Taking a 2-0 lead into the break gave Dunbar a nice mental edge, Delgado said. The Bulldogs were eager to add another score in the early part of second half, reflected in an early 4-0 advantage in shots to open the period.
Lafayette staved off the Dunbar pressure and came away with its own point. Riley Bishop drove in a goal straight-on from about 12 yards out to cut in half the Bulldogs' lead.
The Generals had a few set pieces in the final 10 minutes but Dunbar's defense responded in each instance.
The Bulldogs' confidence was buoyed entering the game with the return of Justin Kelly. The senior midfielder missed most of the regular season with a quad injury. He was strong in his first game back, Bretz said.
Kelly said "it sucked" spending the bulk of the year on the sidelines. He said he provides a steadying presence, especially defensively.
"A lot of marking in the middle comes from me," Kelly said. " I like to talk to the guys. If you're physical and bring the effort you can win almost every game."
LexCath wins thriller
After Tates Creek ended its season two straight years, Lexington Catholic finally got over the hump, taking the game into extra time and advancing 4-2 on penalty kicks in the 43rd District semifinals on Tuesday night.
Senior Coleton Tate delivered the game-sealing PK for LexCath after Tates Creek missed its fourth attempt.
Amadi Mubelela put in a dish from Sebastian Mbaya to give Tates Creek a 1-0 halftime lead.
"They came out and gave it to us the first half," Lexington Catholic Coach Jonathon Kincheloe said. "They dominated us."
Zach Tussey equalized things for the Knights in the 47th minute.
"These seniors were determined to make the difference tonight," said Kincheloe, who had four seniors connect on PKs in the end.
Mubelela missed a chip shot on an empty net that would have put Tates Creek up 2-1 with 16 minutes left.
PAUL DUNBAR 2, LAFAYETTE 1
43rd District semifinal at Lafayette
G—PD: Clemente (17'), Delgado (25'). L: Bishop (69').
GK—PD: Shuler. L: Paskovics.
Records: Paul Dunbar 15-6-1, Lafayette 14-6.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC 1, TATES CREEK 1 (4-2 PK)
43rd District semifinal at Lafayette
Lexington Catholic won 4-2 on penalty kicks
G—LC: Tussey (47'). TC: Mubelela (24').
GK—LC: Wheeler. TC: Croley.
Records: Lexington Catholic 9-9-2, Tates Creek 11-5.