John Manga had heard the spin on district soccer finals.
The outcome matters little because both the champion and runner-up advance to regional play.
Manga begs to disagree.
"It definitely matters to me," he said Thursday, after scoring all the goals in Henry Clay's 3-0 26th District title win at Tates Creek. "It's my last year of playing this tournament, so I had to win it no matter what. People say it doesn't matter, but to me it matters."
Manga pushed his season total to 36 goals and earned tourney MVP honors.
The win assures the defending state champions of a higher seed in the region, which will be played next week at either Woodford County or Western Hills.
The third-ranked Blue Devils (18-2-1) have won 10 matches in a row and are unbeaten in their last 13 (12-0-1). The string of victories began with a 3-0 blanking of Creek on Sept. 13.
Manga, a 6-foot-2 senior who will play collegiate ball for Cincinnati, scored on a pair of first-half headers, plus a second-half penalty kick.
"They left me open," Manga, a native of Congo, said of his headers. "They just stood there, so I just came in and just got the ball off their heads."
The first goal, 18:19 into the match, came off Zach Campbell's corner kick. Manga, on the run, found the ball about 5 yards out and glanced his shot off the crossbar and into the goal.
"We've been working on corner kicks," Coach Tim Bernardi said. "We were impressed with John, the way he went up to win the ball and managed to get two in."
The second, exactly eight minutes later, actually came off Connor Lakofka's free kick. Manga redirected the ball inside the far post.
"I'd say he'll be Mr. Kentucky this year," Creek Coach Brandon Turek said of Manga.
That was plenty of cushion for goalkeeper John Paul Jikang, who was called on for only two saves, in addition to playing about a half-dozen balls in the penalty box. Unofficially, the Devils outshot the Commodores 22-6.
"We played pretty well," Bernardi said. "We worked the ball nicely in the first half; especially in the first half.
"We were talking about how we didn't generate a goal necessarily in the run of play, but we were able to capitalize off of two (set-play) kicks in the first half and that was it."
Manga's penalty kick, with 23:52 left, came after teammate Oliver Griffen was hauled down in the penalty box.
Tates Creek (8-12-1) had won four of five coming into the match, and the Commodores will be making a repeat appearance in the region. Creek began the season losing five straight matches and six of their first seven.
"It means a lot just to get here, from where we started at the beginning of the season to where we've ended up," Turek said. "I'm just proud of the boys. Played a great game. And Henry Clay's a heck of a team."
■ The last 11½ minutes were played in heavy rain. By then, both coaches had pulled most of the starters.
Henry Clay 3, Tates Creek 0
Goals — HC: John Manga 3. Goalkeepers — TC: Evan Adams; HC: John Paul Jikang. Records — Tates Creek 8-12-1; Henry Clay 18-2-1.
Most Valuable Player — John Manga, Henry Clay. All-tournament team — Matt Harris, Addison Manley and Zach Campbell, Henry Clay; Grant Honaker, Evan Adams and Hesham Shalash, Tates Creek; Jack Palmer and Alex Sosa, Scott Co.; Mikey Solomon and Zach Myers, Sayre; John Grigsby, Bryan Station.