Doing the little things paid big dividends for Henry Clay on Thursday night.
The third-ranked Blue Devils got first-half goals by Collin Rose and Zach Wolfe en route to a 2-1 victory over No. 2 Paul Laurence Dunbar.
"We've been talking to our kids about just doing the little things right. And I think that they put a complete game together tonight," Henry Clay Coach Tim Bernardi said. "Dunbar, we knew going in was a great team, well coached, a lot of talent; I don't think they've lost to an in-state opponent since like November 2012 or something like that. So we've just been kind of talking all week about doing the little things right — talking on defense and playing as a group."
With the win, Henry Clay improved to 11-0-2.
"We don't really talk about our record too much," Bernardi said. "We just kind of show up and play the game. We definitely look at who we're playing, but in terms of records, we don't really pay much attention to that. We just want to play better as the season goes on and peak at the right time. That's what we're trying to do."
Dunbar (9-3-2) had a six-match winning streak stopped.
"You're always disappointed when you lose," Bulldogs Coach Todd Bretz said. "But when you play a team like Henry Clay, they're a fantastic team — probably one of the top teams in the state if not the top team in the state. We can't make mistakes and, unfortunately, we made a mistake and they capitalized. But our guys kept fighting and played hard to the end."
Rose struck first, with 15:39 left in the half, by drilling a free kick from 31 yards out off the crossbar and down into the goal.
"I was just trying to see if I could get a good hit on it and see where it goes," Rose said. "But it ended up going right in the corner like I wanted it to. It was amazing. I was so happy."
Wolfe scored with 10 minutes to go, into a wide-open net after the goalkeeper misjudged a ball that had been played into the penalty box.
Dunbar came close to scoring about a minute later, but Amir Simons-Miller's shot hit harmlessly off the left post.
And Henry Clay lost starting goalkeeper David Vasquez to a leg injury with 11:34 left in the half. Itai Kumengisa came on in relief, but Vasquez returned for the second half.
Vasquez looked fine, making a diving save of a Harrison Grabmeyer shot with 27 minutes left.
Dunbar finally got on the board with 18:07 left, when Tyler Joy-Brandon put in a free kick from 20 yards out.
That was all the Bulldogs would get, though.
"I think we just outworked them," Rose said. "The skill level around the board was top notch on both teams. I think we just outworked them this time. I look forward to the next time that we can play them."
HENRY CLAY 2, DUNBAR 1
Goals — HC: Collin Rose, Zach Wolfe; D: Tyler Joy-Brandon. Goalkeepers — HC: David Vasquez and Itai Kumengisa; D: Travis Shuler. Records — Henry Clay 11-0-2; Dunbar 9-3-2.