Sikeston (1-0) outscored Perryville 4-1 in the shootout to advance to the semifinals today against Cape Central at 5:45 p.m. The Lady Tigers devoured Farmington, 5-0. Marion, Ill. and St. Vincent will battle in the other semifinal at 7 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out early on the Lady Pirates and it seemed that a shootout would not be necessary. Playing with a blustery wind behind them, Sikeston took advantage at 17:00 on a corner kick by junior Jordi Ferrell.
Ferrell judged the wind correctly and hit a beautiful arching shot that the Perryville keeper misjudged and the ball went in the net for the first goal of the game.
Four minutes later, Sikeston seemed to increase the lead by two goals after Megan Underhill hit a shot past the goalie. However, the goal was disallowed because offsides was called by the officials.
Undaunted, the Lady Bulldogs kept the offensive pressure on Perryville (1-1) throughout much of the first half. Sikeston took advantage of a 20-30 m.p.h. wind gust that was at the backs of the team that attacked the north goal.
At 38:00, sophomore Abbi Keefer broke open from the Perryville defense and junior Laura Atchison made a good pass that Keefer put past the keeper. At the half, Sikeston led 2-0.
"We played very well in the first half," said Sikeston head coach Derrick Long. "Our game plan was to push everybody up and put a lot of offensive pressure on them. We have a new goalie (Amber Minner) and we wanted to keep the pressure off her early and I think we did a good job early of pushing the ball. Atchison, Ferrell and (Jennifer) Millington did a nice job on defense of stopping Perryville's attack up the middle."
With a change of fields after the half, Perryville now had the wind at their backs and the offense tilted to their side in the second half. The Lady Pirates outshot Sikeston 13-4 in the half, but the Lady Bulldogs held firm on defense for much of the 40 minutes.
The game seemed to be well in hand as the clock ticked below the 10 minute mark in the contest. Sikeston's defense finally buckled at the 31st minute on a goal by the Lady Pirates. Perryville didn't rest and scored the game-tying goal less than a minute later.
"What a turn around," said Long on the game-tying goals by Perryville. "We just got sloppy late on defense. Instead of going up the middle, they went around our ends and were successful. We started chasing instead of playing fundamental defense. The girls just had some mental mistakes in the last 10 minutes and it cost us."
The game went through two 10-minute overtimes tied, 2-2. Both teams had a chance in overtime with the wind at their backs, but neither could get the ball in the net. The best chance of the winning goal was by Sikeston.
On a corner kick, Ferrell placed the ball right in front of the goal as a leaping Kaitlyn Turnbow tried to head the ball past the goalie. Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, the ball went wide left.
A big strategic move by the Sikeston coaching staff before the start of the overtimes may have proved to be the deciding factor. Sikeston put Keefer in goal, opting not to put the inexperienced Minner in a tough situation this early in the season.
"Amber did a nice job in goal considering it was her first 80 minutes ever," said Long. "Coach (Sikeston assistant Doyle) Noe came up with the idea to put Abbi back there and take advantage of her experience. Abbi is a great athlete and would be a top notch goalie, but we need her more in the field. "
In the shootout, the officials had both teams shoot with their wind in their faces. Ferrell was up first for Sikeston and she calmly put the first shot past Perryville.
The Lady Pirates missed on their first opportunity and Sikeston took a 2-0 lead after Keefer made the Bulldogs second attempt. Perryville's second attempt went high and the Pirates were in a early hole.
Sikeston continued to put pressure on Perryville as Millington made it 3-0 with a shot past the keeper. After the Lady Pirates made it 3-1, Atchison clinched the win with the fourth goal in the shootout for the Lady Bulldogs.
Keefer came up big for Sikeston with a couple of goals and a solid stint at keeper late in the contest. Keefer had some butterflies when called upon in goal.
"I was definitely nervous," said Keefer. "I hadn't played there in awhile. In the shootout, I just concentrated and tried to read where they would shoot it. I tried to read their eyes and I also guessed, whatever worked."
The finals of the tournament are scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. and the third place game will take place at noon.