"We fought hard and it was a much-improved effort, but we left them in the game," Long said after Sikeston evened its overall record at 3-3. "There were times when it seemed like Kennett wanted to win this match more than we did."
The Bulldogs, who were blanked 4-0 by Marion on Tuesday, received two goals from senior forward Justin Deere and one goal apiece from freshman forward Jordan Davis and sophomore midfielder Stuart Strohm.
"Our forwards have become more aggressive, but I'm still wanting them to take it to a higher level. I know they have what it takes inside," Long said.
During the first half, the Bulldogs dominated the Indians, keeping the ball deep in Kennett territory for most of the first 40 minutes. For the match, the Bulldogs held a 20-10 edge in shots on-goal.
In the 14th minute, Davis penetrated the right side of the goalkeeper's box before he put the ball past Kennett senior goalie J.J. Willett as Sikeston took a 1-0 lead. The play was made possible on a assist from senior defender Hunter Dillender, who helped the Bulldogs maintain their advantage for the next 18 minutes.
But the Indians were able to mount a match-tying rally. In the 32nd minute, sophomore defender Will Johnson sent a shot that eluded Sikeston senior goalie Scott Droddy as the momentum in the match switched in the favor of Kennett.
The Bulldogs regained their lead six minutes later, when Deere was able to re-direct a rebound off of Willett as the ball laid inside the goalkeeper's box. Sikeston held a 2-1 edge at halftime after Dillender, who had the initial shot, posted his second assist of the match.
That advantage grew to 3-1 in the second half after Deere connected with a shot in the right corner on a nearly-impossible angle from about 25 yards. Sikeston had its third goal of the match after the ball sailed past Willett and into the left corner of the net.
Junior Dakota Trevino set up Sikeston's fourth goal on a free kick in the 73rd minute. The Bulldogs' defender sent a hard shot to the net from about 45 yards out that was deflected and re-directed by Strohm, whose attempt was able to beat Willett for a 4-1 SHS lead.
"Right now, on paper, we are a mediocre soccer team. I am waiting for this squad to blossom," Long said. "We have a match (today) against defending state champion Notre Dame. That should be a measuring stick to see where we are at."
Freshman forward Ryan Richardson was among a scrum of Kennett attackers who pressured Droddy during the 78th minute. He re-directed a rebound inside the goalkeeper's box that led to the Indians' second tally of the match.
Sikeston, which was a 2-1 victor in the JV contest, received goals from Kenneth Moy and Jason Stratman. Nick DeLaRosa assisted the Bulldogs' first tally before Andrew McDowell had the helper on the second SHS goal.
Sikeston's doubleheader of matches (varsity and JV) against Notre Dame will begin at 4 p.m. today in Cape Girardeau.