High School Sports

Their season ended in a shootout last year. Revenge was sweet.

Photo slideshow: Paul Laurence Dunbar defeats Tates Creek in district semifinals

Paul Laurence Dunbar defeats Tates Creek 3-2 in the 43rd District semifinals at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
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Paul Laurence Dunbar defeats Tates Creek 3-2 in the 43rd District semifinals at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar girls’ soccer team’s season ended in a shootout against Tates Creek in the 43rd District tournament last year. The last thing Morgan Turcotte wanted to do was have kicks decide her team’s fate again.

Alas, fate works in mysterious ways. Dunbar again went to a shootout against the Commodores but this time turned the tables, coming out on the winning side of a 3-2 decision following a 0-0 draw through regulation and overtime in the 43rd District semifinals.

And it was Turcotte’s foot that decided things on her home field. A mid-high ball to the right sent the Bulldogs to Thursday’s district finals and guaranteed them a spot in next week’s 11th Region tournament.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">43rd District girls’ soccer semifinal: Paul Laurence Dunbar 0, Tates Creek 0 (Dunbar wins shootout 3-2)<br><br>Morgan Turcotte, who saved many shots and kicked the game-winning shootout goal, was thrilled afterward. <a href="https://t.co/nrFXIAHf9S">pic.twitter.com/nrFXIAHf9S</a></p>&mdash; Josh Moore (@HLpreps) <a href="https://twitter.com/HLpreps/status/1049825853583052801?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 10, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

“We did it the hard way but they still got it done,” said Dunbar Coach Megan Poage, who’s in her first year leading the program. “That’s the way they went out last year so that’s always a tough route to come about. But they got it done this year.”

Poage had confidence that Turcotte would deliver after the teams played to a 2-2 standstill in the shootout. Turcotte blocked a Tates Creek attempt in the start of the fifth round to set up a game-winning try.

“It’s her senior year and she’s making a run for Miss Kentucky Soccer, I believe,” Poage said. “I want her to make that run and something like that helps her along the way. She came up with some huge saves tonight that saved our butt. She’s phenomenal. It’s icing on the cake to have her get that winning goal.”

Turcotte, who’s committed to Eastern Kentucky University, and her seven senior teammates likely will have to do something they’ve never done before to win a district title on Thursday: defeat Lexington Catholic.

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Morgan Turcotte (1) blocked a corner kick and an attempted goal from Tates Creek’s McKensey Bunch (18) during the 43rd District girls soccer semifinal Tuesday at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. Paul Laurence Dunbar beat Tates Creek 3-2 on penalty kicks. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

The Knights, the top-seeded team in the district, played Lexington Christian Academy in Tuesday’s second semifinal. They swept the district this season and are the three-time defending 11th Region champs.

Dunbar dropped a 2-1 decision at Lexington Catholic earlier this year but has won 12 straight games following Thursday’s match. The Bulldogs have allowed only seven goals this season, tops in the 11th Region; Catholic is second at 16 goals allowed.

“We’ve never beaten them but are you kidding me? We’re coming for them,” Turcotte said with a grin. “In the nicest way possible. We’ve got something to prove in this game next. I’m excited for this, cause we’re definitely peaking at this point of the season.”