CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Last year Sikeston put its soccer program on the map by giving top-seeded Notre Dame all it wanted in the district tournament.
The Bulldogs held a 1-0 lead with just two seconds left in regulation, but Notre Dame managed to tie the score, then won the match in a 5-4 shootout.
"After last year, I don't know if we could be much of a darkhorse," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "I think we opened some eyes with how well we played."
Now Sikeston looks to take the next step.
The Bulldogs enter this year's 1A-3A District 1 Tournament at Notre Dame with an 8-9-1 record, and have been seeded third in the field of six.
"All we want is another shot at Notre Dame," said Long. "Our goal this year was not just to make the district championship, but to win it. It will be a disappointing season to me and a lot of the senior players to do anything less."
Again Notre Dame (15-3-2) has been seeded first and is the overwhelming favorite to win. But before Sikeston can worry about avenging last year's loss, they've got to get past Kennett today at 7 p.m.
The Indians (3-9) have been seeded sixth, and they're Sikeston's first-round opponent.
The Bulldogs have fared well against them this year, beating them all three times they've played. Sikeston won their last match 8-0.
"We're starting to handle them pretty easily now," said Long. "They're a young program. Hopefully we can get our offense going right off the bat against them. We've really got to stay focused on Kennett, they've got some good players. If we look past them, they could score a couple of quick goals and we could have an early exit."
If Sikeston gets by Kennett, they will face St. Pius in the second round on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. St. Pius (8-10) is the second seed and received a bye in the first round.
"I've seen them play a few teams," explained Long. "They've got a real strong defense, but they struggle a little bit scoring. If we can just hold them and maybe get a quick goal, maybe we can steal one there."
Sikeston is carried by senior Adam Garrett, who leads the team with a school-record 29 goals on the season. He also holds records for goals in a game (5), goals in a career (87), and total points (187), which counts both goals and assists.
Tanner Fritz holds the school single season record for assists with 10 last year. He has eight this year. That record appears to be in jeopardy, as Brandon DeWitt stands with nine heading into today's match.
Keeper Chris Cota has been solid also this year, recording 204 saves.
"We would be nowhere without those four guys," said Long. "And you don't get many stats on defense. Justin Coffer and Jason Showmaker saved games left and right with the way they play back there, but they don't get very much recognition. It's a team effort."
On the other side of the bracket, fourth-seeded Windsor (10-4-1) plays fifth-seeded DeSoto (3-13) today at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will face Notre Dame on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to see who goes to the championship.
"I don't see them having a problem reaching the championship game," said Long. "They're a solid team from the back all the way up to the top. They're the quickest team I've seen in a long time. We do want Notre Dame and we hope they make it to the championship. We're going to do our best to get there."