Who woulda thunk it?
In a matchup of two of the top boys' soccer teams Tuesday night, the outcome was decided by halftime.
No. 6 Paul Laurence Dunbar did all the scoring in the first half en route to a dominating 3-0 win over third-ranked and visiting Henry Clay.
Henry Clay is a "very good team, but they're missing a couple of their very good players, which made it easier for us tonight," Bulldogs Coach Todd Bretz said. "I think with the players they're missing, it'd be a lot different game."
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The Blue Devils (6-1-1) were without Thomas Ueland in the second half, and for much of the first half, and Addison Manley was on the pitch for the first time in about two weeks. Together, they form Henry Clay's top scoring punch.
The lack of firepower might not have made a difference Wednesday, though.
"I thought Dunbar outworked us, outplayed us for pretty much the whole match, really," Henry Clay Coach Tim Bernardi said. "I thought we came out kind of flat. They got up on us early and kind of put us back on our heels. They just kept taking it to us and managed to put a few more in on us."
The Bulldogs (6-1) struck less than 111/2 minutes in, when Guillermo Clemente crossed the ball. Nathan Jones got a head on the ball and Matthew Spanyer ripped a shot that was turned away by goalkeeper John Paul Jikang.
Riley Calhoon collected the rebound and arced a soft floater over the goal-mouth traffic and inside the far post.
"The ball was just bouncing around inside the box," Calhoon said. "A few rebounds. Just got in the right place at the right time, turned and shot."
Just over five minutes later, Jean-Samual Poirier beat Jikang to a cross and punched it in the net for a 2-0 lead.
Clemente made it 3-0 with 6:37 left in the half, a laser to the top left corner of the goal.
Calhoon, for one, wasn't expecting a rout.
"No. I was expecting both teams to come out, give it their all, which we did," he said. "It showed, I guess, we just wanted it more."
After intermission, Dunbar continued to pressure on offense, but Jikang played well.
"We've been working on trying to be more consistent. And they were a little more consistent tonight," Bretz said. "We were able to keep the pressure on a little bit. Their players are the kind of players they hold the midfield with and we were able to do a little bit better job of that tonight."
Henry Clay had a couple of scoring chances.
Zach Campbell fired just wide right with 14 minutes left in the first half.
Dunbar keeper Fernando Ortiz deflected a second-half Cameron Boone shot to the crossbar area.
The Devils' chances were few and far between, though.
"It was just possession. Just pass it around," Calhoon said. "Don't let them have the ball too much because they have dangerous players that can do great work. Just guard them tight and don't let them get chances."
Said Bretz: "We bent a lot, gave them a lot of midfield play, but we didn't give them a whole lot of chances deep."
Paul Laurence Dunbar 3, Henry Clay 0
Goals—Riley Calhoon, Jean-Samual Poirier, Guillermo Clemente. Goalkeepers—HC: John Paul Jikang; PLD: Fernando Ortiz.
Records: HC: 6-1-1; PLD: 6-1-0.