CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Sikeston yielded four goals, three of them gifts, in the first 16 minutes of its soccer match against host Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs of Sikeston then settled down to hold the Bulldogs of Notre Dame to one goal the rest of the way in a 5-0 SEMO Conference loss on Thursday.
"You can't give good teams that kind of advantage," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "All it does is give us a challenge ahead to right the ship before districts. We'll see them again and we're planning on winning again."
Sikeston posted a huge breakthrough win -- 3-2 win in four overtimes -- over perennial district favorite Notre Dame in last year's district final.
Notre Dame (4-1) scored with less than a minute gone on Jack Wedemeier's unassisted goal from about 15 yards out. Sikeston goalie Scott Droddy, with several stellar saves among his total of 12, failed to make a stop on the shot with a one-handed attempt.
The rough start continued as the usually reliable sophomore goalkeeper allowed a rather weak shot to slip through his grasp and between his legs for Notre Dame's second goal at the 28:15 mark. Abe Dirnberger got credit for the score with an assist from Jason Delgado.
"I felt bad for the Sikeston keeper," said Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn. "He's very good. He misplayed a couple of balls, but we played against him last year and it seemed like he made every play."
"He's (Droddy) a very good kid and he plays his heart out. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way. We've all been through it."
Notre Dame got its third score with 26:21 left in the half when Dirnberger, one of two juniors in Notre Dame's senior-dominated starting lineup, rifled a shot into the corner for his second goal.
Goal No. 4 was also a bit of a fluke when it deflected off a Sikeston defender's leg into the net at 24:04.
Sikeston held Notre Dame scoreless the remainder of the half as the 4-0 score stood.
Sikeston (2-4), outshot 15-4 in the first half, came back with a far superior effort in the second 40 minutes, getting more offensive looks and holding the shot deficit to 11-6.
"(In) the second half, we played a lot more aggressively," said Long. "That whole first half they just outplayed us, won every ball."
Notre Dame, displaying a nice passing game, added its fifth and final goal at the 8:29 mark of the second half when Wedemeier, the other junior starter, netted his second goal of the evening.
Said Wittenborn, "We may not be as fast, overall, as some of our other teams, but our ballhandling skills may be better. This group has a good feel for the game and we've got one or two special players that can make big-time plays for us, so I expect us to get better and better as the season goes along. How far we go depends on how hard we work and how we gel as a team."
Long, with seven of 11 starters being underclassmen, refused to place too much stock in the early-season loss to Notre Dame.
"We'll take our lumps early and, hopefully, be ready by the end of the year," he said. "I don't know if we've really come together as a team yet. We've got a lot of individual talent but it's got to be a total unit effort. Now we know the things we need to work on. We'll get there."
Sikeston's junior varsity lost its match 7-0.
Sikeston hosts Cape Central on Tuesday at 5 p.m. for junior varsity and varsity action at the Sikeston Sports Complex.