Bulldog soccer “had the heart” this 2014 season, according to junior Justin Kelley, a mid-fielder for the team.
Coming off a state title, fans thought it was too much to ask for a repeat season.
After losing so many of the senior players who lead the varsity squad to rings in 2013, the team was left with a dilemma: aim high and hope for the best, or treat the 2014 season as training camp and give lower classmen the chance to hone their skills so that they would be prepared for the big leagues in upcoming years.
The team attempted to take the middle route.
With a 19-5-3 record, the bulldogs made the best of a tough situation that every contending high school team faces: winning without established team leaders.
In that respect, they exceeded expectations.
The record may not hint at the fact that the team struggled to live up to the previous year, but that changes when looking at the 2013 season. Last year, the Bulldogs went an incredible 26-1-2.
They tied with Boone country 3-3 on August 24, in only their third game of the season. On Oct. 1, they tied 1-1 with what can be considered the only real challenger in Fayette County: Henry Clay.
Afterwards, on Oct. 4, they lost to Missouri’s Fort Zumwalt South High School at the Gateway Classic tournament, then beat them the next day.
The 2014 season went a bit differently. They remained at the top of the regional leaderboard, but their five losses were scattered across the season. The team entered their sixth game only 3-2. Most notably, they lost their only game of the season against Henry Clay 2-1.
The team beat St. Henry in the first game of the tournament, then steamrolled Daviess 5-0 in the quarterfinals.
It was in the semifinals where their season ended. The Bulldogs were matched up against Bowling Green, who entered the tournament 19-1-1.
The Bulldogs took solace in the fact that Bowling Green went on to win the championship match against Scott County. Still, the result was a disappointment for fans and players alike.
The team remained postive through this grieving process.
“There was never a moment in my mind that I thought we wouldn’t go far,” said Kelley a week after the game.
This May, the team will wave more players goodbye. Tyler Joy-Brandon, Chas Bruceck, Fabian Hernandez, Alex Lewis, Joe Morgan, Luke Norris, and Jake Whitt have all played their last game in Dunbar colors. Dunbar can only hope to perform this well next season.