High School Sports

Boys' state soccer semifinals: Bowling Green trips up defending champ Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar's Luke Norris (8) was knocked over in a collision with Bowling Green's Sam Grise during the KHSAA Boys' State Soccer semifinals Thursday night at Henry Clay. Grise got a yellow card for the foul, but Dunbar couldn't capitalize on the free kick.
Paul Laurence Dunbar's Luke Norris (8) was knocked over in a collision with Bowling Green's Sam Grise during the KHSAA Boys' State Soccer semifinals Thursday night at Henry Clay. Grise got a yellow card for the foul, but Dunbar couldn't capitalize on the free kick. Herald-Leader

There will not be a repeat champion in the boys' State Soccer Tournament.

Third-ranked Bowling Green took care of that Thursday night by knocking off defending champ and top-ranked Paul Laurence Dunbar 2-0 in a frigid semifinals match at Henry Clay.

The Purples (21-1-1) will meet Scott, a 1-0 winner over South Oldham, in the championship match Saturday at 7 p.m. Bowling Green will take an 18-game winning streak into the finals.

David Mason scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, pouncing on a spilled shot with 35:52 left to play. Arif Smajlovic added a goal on a breakaway with 1.8 seconds left as Dunbar pressed for the equalizer.

"I thought the guys played great. I'm very proud," Dunbar Coach Todd Bretz said. "We didn't capitalize on our chances early. We had a little bit of a mistake, but we kept fighting, we kept battling. I couldn't be more proud of our guys.

"Bowling Green's a fantastic team. They're well coached and have a lot of fantastic athletes, but we were right there. It just didn't go our way tonight."

Dunbar (19-5-3) made it to the Final Four three years in a row.

The Bulldogs had several sparkling chances in the scoreless first half. Just 3½ minutes in, Connor Roberts' one-touch on an open net sailed high. Luke Norris put a hard shot on frame midway through the period, but goalkeeper Ryan Hughes deflected the ball over the end line.

With 3½ minutes left, Javier Delgado came in one-on-one and put a shot wide right.

"The first half, we had three fantastic chances," Bretz said. "Against a quality team like this you're not going to get 20 chances. ... The keeper came up with some big saves. We played well. It's just that at this level you've got to capitalize on those chances. You're not going to get too many."

"It's an excellent group of young men," Purples Coach Craig Widener said. "I'm going to have to give them all the credit for keeping themselves under control. We've stayed focus the entire season. I left (the State tourney) here two years ago, playing a Paul Dunbar team that I feel we shouldn't have really lost that game.

"To be honest with you, for 40 minutes tonight I wasn't sure we were going to win it because we were under pressure the entire time. But I've got to give a lot of credit to the boys for just sticking to the game plan, staying compact and trying to get goals."

Bowling Green's best first-half look came with a little less than nine minutes left. Smaljlovic's shot from the right wing was blocked by goalkeeper Travis Shuler, who quickly covered the loose ball.

The Purples had better luck in the second half, though.

Shuler stopped a long-range shot by Gilio Aviles, but couldn't control the rebound. Mason was on the spot to clean up.

"It was a great shot by Gilio Aviles," Mason said. "Just following up, what we're taught to do. Follow everything up (because) there's a chance the goalie spills it. He did and I seized the opportunity and put us up one.

"Then our 'D' — our defense — just held it down the rest of the game. They played a great game."

In the opener, University of Kentucky recruit Luke Treadway scored for Scott with 18:57 left. The goal came off a straightaway free kick from about 25 yards.

The score was his eighth in three State tourney games and 29th of the season.

The sixth-ranked Eagles (21-2-1) will take a 10-game winning streak into the finals.

No. 5 South Oldham (15-7-3) just missed a goal 1:15 into the match, when Christian Lister ripped a shot off the crossbar.

Scott 1, South Oldham 0

Goal — Sc: Luke Treadway. Goalkeepers — SO: Griffin Smith; Sc: C.J. Seay. Records — South Oldham 15-7-3; Scott 21-2-1.

Bowling green 2, Dunbar 0

Goals — BG: David Mason, Arif Smajlovic. Goalkeepers — BG: Ryan Hughes; PLD: Travis Shuler. Records — Bowling Green 21-1-1; Dunbar 19-5-3.

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