VERSAILLES — With two ranked teams coming off their first losses of the year, something had to give Tuesday night at Community Stadium.
No. 6 Paul Laurence Dunbar absorbed an early scoring punch, then took care of No. 9 Woodford County 3-1.
Goals by Erik Clemente, Riley Calhoun and Jean-Samuel Poirier rallied the Bulldogs.
Woodford (4-2) had allowed only three goals in its first five matches.
After Daniel Christian gave the Yellowjackets the lead 17:37 into the match, Dunbar (5-1) held firm on defense.
"They bent a lot, but they didn't break. And they put a lot of pressure on us," Coach Todd Bretz said. "I still would have liked to have had the shutout, but giving up only one goal to this team is pretty good."
Nathan Jones set up the tying goal at 26:55, dishing to Clemente about 15 yards off the goal line.
Calhoun made it 2-1 at halftime, spinning and firing from the 18.
The Bulldogs led even though game statistics had Woodford in control of the ball 62 percent of the time.
When the Yellowjackets had their chances, though, they couldn't finish.
"Well there was that (missed chances), and there was some really bad defending after we scored, it seemed like," Coach Fonyam Atanga said. "I guess the kids get in their heads about those rankings sometimes, almost as if you don't believe you're up on Dunbar. Up a good goal and you're playing well, and the next thing you know we let a kid turn right on top of our 18 to have a free shot, with a man right on him, unchallenged."
Woodford's three corner kicks, all in the second half, produced nothing.
"A lot of it was organization," fullback Nick Dimeo said of Dunbar's defensive success. "Coach teaches us a lot how to keep it straight in the back and really talk about it."
"We just have to communicate," fellow back-liner Davoud Saghaian said. "Constantly we had times when we were getting misdirected, people were switching and we were getting out of order. All it takes to clean that up is communication."
Poirier communicated that the Bulldogs would win, providing a two-goal cushion 4:53 into the second half. It came when he tapped in a rebound after goalie Dylan Spencer blocked Jones' initial shot.
"When we settle down and we're a little patient, we're able to find each other and we're a lot better," Bretz said. "But they put so much pressure on us. They rushed us so much that we broke down a lot, and they created a lot of opportunities themselves."
Atanga, whose team lost its previous outing against Mercer County, did not see much positive about merely playing tough against Dunbar.
"No. It doesn't matter how good the team is. When you create chances, score," he said. "... It's the same story from our last game. We played well, had more opportunities, had more possessions and then ended up losing the game. So I'm not sure I can take too many positives from the game."
Paul Laurence Dunbar 3, Woodford County 1
Goals—PLD: Erik Clemente, Riley Calhoun, Jean-Samuel Poirier; WC: Daniel Christian. Goalkeepers—PLD: Fernando Ortiz; WC: Dylan Spencer. Records—PLD 5-1; WC 4-2.