By Dan Wright
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- One month ago, Brossart claimed the small-school, All ‘A’ Classic Cup state championship.
Monday night, the Mustangs found out how much more difficult it is to win the tournament which includes schools of all sizes, falling 4-2 to Lexington Paul Laurence Dunbar in the first round of the state tournament at Northern Kentucky University.
"You didn’t see a team like Dunbar in that Class ‘A’ state tournament," said Brossart head coach Brian Goller. "This is a huge and talented team and they are well coached."
The Bulldogs entered as one of the tournament’s favorites, with their last lost to a Kentucky team having come in last year’s state championship game. In addition, Dunbar was making its fifth straight appearance in the state tournament while Brossart was making its first since 2004.
The Bulldogs took advantage of that experience, blitzing the Mustangs with four goals in a first half in which they fired off 15 shots to Brossart’s one and had five corner kicks to one by the Mustangs.
"The first half we had a little trouble getting going," said Goller. "I think we were a little intimidated early on, gave way too much space, and when you give that much space to that kind of team, they’re just going to pick you apart."
Senior Riley Calhoun factored in all four goals with three assists and a goal, starting 11 minutes into the match when his corner kick was headed into the net by senior Jean-Samuel Poirier.
"He had a good game tonight," Dunbar head coach Todd Bretz said of Calhoun. "He’s very creative and now the guys are working hard off of him and when they’re all working hard together they create a lot of opportunities."
Eighteen minutes into the match, Calhoun sent a free kick to the far post, where senior Nathan Jones easily redirected it into an open net.
Calhoun and sophomore Erik Clemente then combined for a pair of goals in the final five minutes of the half, with Clemente feeding Calhoun 3:46 before halftime before Calhoun fed Clemente for a goal with three seconds left in the half.
The Bulldogs sent three more shots off the post in the first 13 minutes of the second half before Brossart scored twice to close the final deficit to two goals.
"We just talked about getting more pressure on them," said Goller. "It was something we talked about before the game, we just were reluctant to do it for whatever reason. So we talked about putting more pressure on those guys, jumping passing lanes and things like that and running out some balls that we were able to get a hold of in the second half."
Junior Nick Dierig averted the shutout by sneaking the ball into the net off a corner kick by junior Jon Henn with 22:14 left in the game, and senior Jacob Jennings found the top of the net off an assist from senior Eli Nienaber with 9:20 remaining.
"Any time you’re in a situation to have a four-goal lead, you sometimes get a little complacent," said Bretz, "but if you lose a four goal lead, that’s pretty bad."
While Brossart’s season ends, the Bulldogs advance to play another local opponent, Highlands, in the quarterfinals at Henry Clay on Saturday.
"At this stage every game is against a great team, so being able to go and play next week in the Elite Eight, that’s a big deal," said Bretz. "We’re excited and hopefully we’ll take advantage of it next week."
HALFTIME: 4-0. GOAL: PLD—Poirier, Jones, Calhoun, Clemente. BB- Dierig, Jennings. RECORDS: Dunbar 23-1-2, Bishop Brossart 19-5.