Sikeston returns eight starters from a team that went 10-11 last year. The 10 wins by the Lady Bulldogs was a school record. While they have experienced players, Sikeston has only one senior on the roster, Emily Taylor.
"We return a lot of girls that have varsity experience," said Sikeston head coach Derrick Long. "They have that experience, but they are still young age-
wise. I am just looking for the girls to keep improving. I have been impressed with our most recent practices. The girls are working hard and looking for that first district title."
The Lady Bulldogs return their top two scorers from a season ago in junior Jordi Ferrell and sophomore Abbi Keefer. In 2006, Ferrell scored 11 goals and had eight assists, while Keefer netted 12 goals and had seven assists in her freshman campaign.
"Jordi was coming off a major knee injury that she suffered in her freshman year," said Long. "She played great last year, but experts say that two years after an injury is when a person is fully healthy. I expect Jordi to be our leader on the field and have a great year."
Sikeston did lose their leading goal scorer in Allison Blurton and goalkeeper Paige Silverthorn. Long has moved some players around to different positions this year to give his club more of an offensive punch.
Junior Jennifer Millington moves from a defensive position to midfield along side Ferrell. Last year, Millington also spent some time in goal for the Lady Bulldogs. Long believes Millington can be force on offense because of her athletic ability and desire to win.
Joining Ferrell and Millington up top on offense will be Ashley Angle, who scored three goals last year. Junior Kelsey Lawrence will also be expected to provide some offensive punch for Sikeston.
"We want to be in the attacking mode this year," said Long. "Last year we didn't score a lot of points, but our defense was solid. I believe we were only outscored by three goals combined for the season. We would like to put more pressure on offense and that is why we moved Millington up."
On defense, Sikeston returns Laura Atchison, Katie DeLaRosa and Ariel Reynolds. Atchison produced two goals as a sophomore, while DeLaRosa and Reynolds provide speed back on defense. Look for freshman Emily Eaves to solidify the defense and contribute right away.
With the graduation of Silverthorn, Long has had to look to a newcomer to fill the keeper position. Junior Amber Minner has been working in goal during practice and Long has been impressed with her progress.
"Amber is just a great athlete and she has been working hard in practice," said Long. "She is going to have her ups and downs, but we hope she just keeps improving. Amber has great hands and we just need to work on her lateral movement."
Sikeston competes in Class 1, District 1 with the likes of rival Notre Dame, St. Vincent, Fredericktown and new arrival to the district, Farmington. The Perryville Lady Pirates won the district title last year.
Perryville defeated Sikeston in the district semifinals last year and the Lady Pirates only lose one player from that team. Long believes the district race will be a dog fight.
"It is going to be a rugged district," said Long. "Perryville is going to be real tough losing only one player. Notre Dame got a new girl to transfer there, so they are improving. St. Vincent has a quality freshman class and will compete. I believe Farmington only loses one player, so it is going to be a tight district."
Sikeston opens their season on Thursday at the Cape Central Tournament. In the round robin event, the Lady Bulldogs will face Perryville in their first game at 4 p.m.