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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Sikeston girls soccer showing signs of life in third year

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Team members are: Keshia Presley, Paige Silverthorn, Amber Coffeey, Caroline McClung, Elizabeth Killion and Molly Brinkmeyer.
SIKESTON - In just its second year of existence, the Sikeston girls soccer program made dramatic strides last season.

In its first year, the Lady Bulldogs went 0-11, scoring one goal all season. But last year the team went 3-15 and had two all-conference players.

Now in its third year, head coach Derrick Long is hoping to continue to build on last year's step forward.

With most of the lineup returning, Long is hoping for an even better season.

"We're pretty much returning our whole team from last year," said Long. "One thing we have on our side is experience from last year. Towards the end of the year last year we started working well together and we kind of carried that on in our first match against a really tough Perryville team."

Sophomore Paige Silverthorn headlines the returning players after making first team all-conference last season. She scored seven goals and had seven assists.

Also returning is sophomore Allison Blurton, who led the team with 11 goals with four assists. She made second team all-conference but will be sidelined for the first several games with foot surgery.

"She's going to be out for the first seven or eight games," said Long. "That's a key loss for us at least for the first part of the season. That's going to put more burden on Paige and some of these other girls to score. It was kind of nice when we had a two-headed monster up there. Now we're going to have to fill in and see if somebody can step in and take care of that void."

Some of the players Long will be banking on are seniors Elizabeth Killion and Caroline McClung along with junior Keshia Presley, who are all captains with Silverthorn.

"They show great leadership with getting the girls focused on the task at hand," said Long. "Erin Dement's an unspoken leader. She doesn't say much, but she shows by her actions on the field. We have a lot of leaders on this team."

Junior Audra Wooley returns as the team's goalie. Amber Coffey and Hannah Smith will also get plenty of playing time along with sophomores Molly Brinkmeyer and Tiffany Robinson.

"We want to be more competitive with the teams we play and get better towards districts," said Long. "I always preach to be ready for the district because that's what it's all about. As long as we're understanding what we're doing out there on the field. When a crisis happens and we have to go do something, every player, as long as they know their job, that's the big goal this year."

Long wouldn't elaborate on a set number of wins he'd like to achieve, but rather steady improvement.

"I don't like throwing a number out there," said Long. "We just want to improve every game. In my eyes I think we can win every game. It's just the little things that hurt us.

Other teams will make a mistake and they know how to recover. "For our team, once we make a mistake we have a hard time recovering and other teams seem to capitalize on it. Most of the goals we give up are little mistakes that we can fix. If I had to throw a number out there, hopefully we can double our wins."

Whether or not the team is ready to compete for a district championship is anybody's guess. But Long suggests that his program, which was started from scratch just three short years ago, is making headway with the more established teams in the area.

"I see progress pretty much being made every day," said Long. "A lot of times people think soccer is kind of a simple game where you kick it up the field and try to kick it in the goal. But there's a lot of intricacies within the game where there's so many jobs you have to do for every position. It's hard to learn, especially if you haven't played most your life. A lot of these girls haven't played that much. If you don't have a lot of experience playing a certain position, you're going to be playing catchup a lot. But I see us getting closer and closer to the teams in our district and conference every day."