The Colts will face the Knights for this third time this season. Lexington Catholic won the regular season matchup, but the Colts won when it counted, getting a 2-1 victory in the district title game last week.
But the trip to region was set up when the Colts defeated Dunbar at East Jessamine Middle School Wednesday night. The Colts had to get a late goal and play into overtime before winning, 3-2. This was after going winless in the district during the regular season.
"I'm so excited. We've never beat Dunbar," Senior Jacob Cox said. "I love this team. We've worked so hard. We deserve it this year."
The game started out with bizarre twists. Both keepers were forced to change jerseys because the colors too closely matched the opposing team's. Minutes into the first half, a Dunbar player was cited for wearing long sleeves when the rest of his team had short sleeves. After the fashion faux pas were corrected, Cox got the scoring going off a throw-in from Randy Troyer.
"Coach had us work specifically on throw-goals and we got two goals off those," Cox said. "So, Coach knows what he's doing, that's all there is to it. After that first goal we were just pumped. I was going crazy."
But just over three minutes later, at the 35-minute mark, Dunbar answered when Andrew Locke scored off a rebound. Two minutes after that, Luis Delgado forced Crist out of the net and pushed a long shot from the wing that rolled in.
"Luis is a great player and when he scores that kind of goal from that kind of angle, as a coach you hope that ball is cleared, but for him to finish that, hats off to him," West Coach Nate Andrews said. "More credit to my guys for knowing its not finished. I never really thought it was done. I thought we'd find a way to come back and we did."
Nearly 30 minutes later, with just over 3 minutes remaining in regulation, Ryan Moberly found the back off the net, again from a Troyer assist.
"All that momentum came to us," Andrews said. "It was a definite switch and it was what we needed. If we start well like we need to and we finish like we need to, I'll give any team the middle."
With 4:19 remaining in the first overtime, the Colts scored off an own goal while pressuring in the box.
Even with the goal advantage, the Colts didn't think they would coast through the second overtime.
"I was scared," Cox said. "I was really scared because they have a fast offense. They had a good chance. I didn't' think it was in the bag, definitely not. But we just packed it in and did what we had to do."
In the waning minutes and their season on the line, the Bulldogs spurred the offensive attack. The Colts refused to break.
Crist managed to keep Dunbar out of the net. The Bulldogs made one last desperate attack with a good look, but Crist came out to collect the ball and held it aloft as time expired, marking the Colts' victory.
"Heath was playing with a lot of confidence tonight," Andrews said. "Once I saw that ball squirt a little, I knew he could come out to get it. I knew we had it. This huge weight just kinda comes off. You've got a senior with the ball in his hands to finish it off."
"I looked at the clock just a little while ago and thought, 'We just have to hold on to this,'" Crist said. "I was just hoping I could punt it down the field and get control so we could hold it there in the middle."
The game presented a certain amount of symbolism for Crist who played well in the regular season meeting with Dunbar that ended with a 1-1 tie. Crist was shown a red card with just seconds remaining in that game.
"I told him, 'You just need to play the same way.' That was his coming out game. So for him to come in again and do the same thing to the same team is a credit to him for keeping his head. He wanted it bad. He hated coming out of that game, even it was just the last few seconds. He wanted to stick it to them."
Despite the emotions, Crist kept his head and tried not to lose focus even as the Colts trailed for most of the second half.
"The thing about goalie is you really have to keep focus on the game," he said. "It's easy back there to just get out of the game because you're standing around a lot. But you just have to keep your focus and know that not matter what, you're the last line of defense. You have to be ready for whatever comes."
The Colts face the Knights for the third time this season, tonight at Madison Southern. The game is set to start at 7 p.m. and the winner will go on to face the winner of the 13 Region tournament, either Henry Clay or Tates Creek. The 13th Region victor is set to be the sub-sectional host should the Colts advance to that tier of the postseason.