After playing on its heels all match long, the Paul Dunbar girls’ soccer team pulled off a stunner in the final two minutes. Junior Megan Shimizu corraled a beautiful pass from freshman Allison O’Hara and whipped it into the net to send the Bulldogs past the Tates Creek Commodores 1-0 and into the 43rd District finals.
“We finally found our little super-sub, Allison O’Hara. She came in and got that ball across and Megan put herself in the right place at the right time and she was very calm and collected on the ball and got us the goal we needed,” said Dunbar head coach Thomas Morgan.
Tates Creek was the clear aggressor throughout both halves, missing several prime scoring opportunities with shots that went either wide or over the crossbar.
“They really turned it on us in the second half,” Morgan said. “They were dominating our midfield, getting corner after corner and pumping the ball in our box. … Luckily, we fought them off and finally found that one opening we needed.”
Dunbar goalie Morgan Turcotte spoiled two great second-half looks by Tates Creek’s McKensey Bunch. The sophomore made a diving save with 17 minutes to play in the second half, then wrapped up Bunch’s shot off a free kick with seven minutes left.
After that, the teams seemed destined for a rematch of their penalty-kick shootout won by Dunbar on Sept. 26. But at the 2:12 mark, Taryn Thomas hit O’Hara on the run with her throw-in, leading to Shimizu’s clincher.
“I really thought we were down and out and going to overtime, if we were even lucky enough to get there with the way Creek was pressing us,” Morgan said. “But we’ve been battling like this all year and I’m so proud of this team.”
Shimizu said it was difficult to describe her emotions as she watched her shot sail into the back of the net.
“It was the best feeling in the world. Oh my God it was just amazing,” she said. “I can’t even explain it. It was incredible … I didn’t think it was going in when I hit it and when it did I was in shock.”
Dunbar will take on two-time defending district champ Lexington Catholic at 7 p.m. at Lafayette on Thursday. The Knights bounced the Bulldogs 4-0 in last year’s title game.
43rd District girls’ finals
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Lafayette High School