Thomas Ueland scored the only goal, and John Paul Jikang combined with Wesley Gregory for the shutout in goal Tuesday night as Henry Clay edged visiting Woodford County 1-0 in a clash of top-20 boys' high school soccer teams.
No. 3 Henry Clay (15-2-1) won its seventh consecutive match and remained unbeaten in its last 10 (9-0-1).
"I think we need to keep it going," Ueland said of the streaks. "We need to keep the energy up. That's how we're going to make it to the (state) finals, like we did last year."
The defending state champions were on their heels early, though, as Woodford pressed the action through much of the first half.
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"Our game plan, really, was to come in and press them because we know they're a good team and it's not something they were going to expect," said Fonyam Atanga, coach of the 19th-ranked Yellowjackets. "I think it worked to perfection, except we had no goals to show for it."
The best of Woodford's many first-half chances came six minutes in, when Zach Blaydes slipped a shot past Jikang.
But Michael Gordin backed up his goalkeeper, clearing the ball from just off the goal line.
"We're region rivals and we knew it was going to be a hard match," Blue Devils Coach Tim Bernardi said. "And we hope to see each other again in the postseason."
Ueland found the net with 12:20 left in the half, shooting left to right from about 10 yards out.
"The keeper was cheating back post," said Ueland, a 14-year-old freshman. "I just saw the front post open. Finish it."
Connor Lakofka triggered the play, sending the ball from midfield as Ueland made a run down the wing.
"He put it on a platter for me," Ueland said. "It was nice."
Woodford (11-3-4) also came close in the second half, with Jacob Phillips popping a shot off the crossbar.
"We had some missed opportunities there," Atanga said, "and I think it was a very evenly contested match. ...
"I felt like we could have won this game, and that's what I've been telling the kids the whole week. We competed well. We just didn't take our chances."
The loss snapped the Yellowjackets' seven-match unbeaten streak, which included a tie.
Gregory replaced Jikang for the final 33 minutes after a goal-mouth collision on a corner-kick play sent the starter sprawling with a head injury.
"He seems to be OK," Bernardi said of Jikang. "Hopefully he'll be back."
Gregory and Jikang finished with six saves each.
"He stepped up big for us tonight," Bernardi said of Gregory.
■ The Blue Devils wore pink T-shirts and had pink bands atop their white socks in support of breast-cancer research, and Woodford got into the spirit with pink socks. The "Pink Out For Pyddney" game was dedicated to Pyddney Jones, a former head of the Henry Clay booster club who died of breast cancer last summer.
■ The 26th district tourney, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week at Tates Creek, will have Sayre facing Bryan Station on opening night.
Wednesday, Tates Creek will face Scott County at 6 p.m., followed by Henry Clay against Tuesday's winner.
The championship match is set for Thursday at 7 p.m.
Henry Clay 1, Woodford Co. 0
Goal — HC: Thomas Ueland.
Goalkeepers — WC: Vince Shaw; HC: John Paul Jikang and Wesley Gregory.
Records: Woodford Co. 11-3-4; Henry Clay 15-2-1.