For the second time in 10 days, the Lexington Catholic boys’ soccer team got into a postseason shootout with Paul Laurence Dunbar. And for the second time in 10 days, Catholic sprung the upset — this time on its own turf.
Tyler Kenney’s penalty kick got through the left arm of Dunbar keeper Josh Szydlik to give the Knights, ranked seventh in the latest Maher Rankings, a perfect 5-4 decision over the No. 6 Bulldogs in a shootout to decide the 11th Region champion following a 1-1 tie after two overtime periods.
LexCath (17-6-2) defeated Dunbar (20-4-1) after a 4-3 shootout following a 1-1 tie in the 43rd District championship on Oct. 12 at Dunbar. For a while it looked as though the Knights would avoid another pressure-packed shootout in a title-game situation; they took a 1-0 lead after Brian Banahan collected a through ball from Wilson Hourigan and scored from about 20 yards out in the 22nd minute.
Catholic held that lead until the 76th minute, when Dunbar star Pedro Jimenez put a shot into the left corner of the net to equalize with 4:18 remaining in regulation.
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“It was a big letdown to let that goal in with only four minutes left, but we dug in and we stayed strong and we ended up getting the ‘W’,” Banahan said.
That ‘W’ was Catholic’s first in a boys’ soccer region championship game since 2007, when it and several other local schools were part of the 14th Region. It was the first region title victory for Knights Coach Jonathan Kincheloe, who’s in his fifth season at the helm.
Since soccer’s regional alignment began to more closely resemble the one used in basketball in 2012, it is the first time that the 11th Region was won by a team other than Henry Clay or Paul Dunbar.
“That is a program that is amazing,” Kincheloe said of Dunbar. “They’ve had it for the last decade and we came together this year, we really did. We bought into everything, we continued with the process. …
“It’s hard to lead for 45, 50 minutes, whatever it was, and give up a goal late and then survive overtime. PKs, sometimes you just flip a coin and it’s just as good.”
Sophomore Ian Rothbauer, Lexington Catholic’s starting goalkeeper, played the entirety of regulation and both overtimes but was replaced by fellow sophomore Santiago Peralta, who never played organized soccer until this season.
His reflexes — honed as a starting shortstop on the baseball field — have been perfect in back-to-back shootout situations against one of the state’s best programs.
“(Coach) was like, ‘All you have to do is stop one goal,’ and that’s what I did,” said Peralta, who stuffed Dunbar’s third PK attempt. “I did the right thing and we got that dub.”
Lexington Catholic will host No. 13 Ryle, the winner of the 9th Region championship, in a semi-state game at 7 p.m. Monday. That game’s winner will advance to the quarterfinals of the state tournament on Saturday, Oct. 28.
“We gotta start thinking about that now,” Kincheloe said. “It’s pretty wild. We’re pretty excited and fortunate.”