Paul Laurence Dunbar has gotten more familiar with shootouts than it’d like to in the last calendar year.
Dunbar defeated Lafayette and Lexington Catholic in shootouts to give it a sweep of the 43rd District this regular season. Those victories followed a 2017 postseason that saw the Bulldogs lose twice to Catholic on kicks, the second time ending their campaign.
This year’s regular-season trials may have been just what Dunbar needed to prepare itself for another postseason run: the Bulldogs defeated Tates Creek, 3-2, in a shootout following a 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime on Wednesday night.
43rd District boys’ soccer semifinal: Paul Laurence Dunbar 1, Tates Creek 1 (Dunbar wins 3-2 in a shootout).— Josh Moore (@HLpreps) October 11, 2018
Pedro Jimenez with the game-winning kick. pic.twitter.com/lHEVho4bVA
Here’s Pedro Jimenez, the first Dunbar soccer player since Tuesday, October 9, 2018, to send their team to the 43rd District championship. pic.twitter.com/wqHyk8coYL— Josh Moore (@HLpreps) October 11, 2018
Tates Creek (9-5-1) did not play in a shootout this season. The school’s girls’ team lost in the same fashion — 3-2 in a shootout to Dunbar — on Tuesday.
Dunbar took a quick lead in the sixth minute on a rebound by Edward Navarro. The Commodores answered early in the second half on a free-kick by Iori Leguizamo that squeezed through a Dunbar front to equalize things in the 49th minute.
Bulldogs Coach Todd Bretz expected the Commodores to answer eventually.
“We knew that Tates Creek was probably going to get a goal,” Bretz said. “They’re too good to not get one. They can put so much pressure on you that we knew we were gonna give up one. We just hoped we weren’t going to give up two.”
William Elliot. pic.twitter.com/x6D8tzBVia— Josh Moore (@HLpreps) October 11, 2018
The teams were tied 2-2 after four rounds of kicks in the shootout. William Elliot stopped Tates Creek’s fifth attempt to set up a game-deciding shot for Pedro Jimenez, a senior who pushed it through high-right over the Commodores’ Josh Harris.
“It feels great, but I don’t think that’s how we should have won,” Jimenez said. “We were dominating the first half but we just fell off. We’ve got to work on that.”
The victory sent Dunbar (12-3-2) to the Wednesday’s 43rd District championship game and assured the Bulldogs of their 10th straight region tournament appearance.
Lafayette and Lexington Catholic met in the second semifinal Wednesday night. The Generals allowed the fewest goals in the regular season (nine) of any 11th Region team; Lexington Catholic’s defense matched Dunbar for third-stingiest at 16 goals allowed (Creek allowed 10 goals in the regular season).
“Our district is so, so tough,” Bretz said. “All the teams, there’s so much parity. On any given night any team can win, so we’re fortunate. We’re lucky that we have the opportunity. … We’re gonna be tired tomorrow. We’re just glad to be playing.”