FENTON - Sikeston was forced to fight an uphill battle, exactly what they had hoped not to do, after falling behind early in its Class 2 quarterfinal match against Trinity Catholic.
Senior striker Chris Clarkin scored all four goals, two in each half, as Trinity eliminated the Bulldogs with a 4-1 victory at the Anheuser-Busch Center in Fenton on Tuesday.
"We just met a good team," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "If we could have come out and played a better first half, maybe held them to no goals or one goal, it could have been a different game."
On Trinity's first shot on goal, Clarkin opened the scoring with less than seven minutes gone. Off a great individual effort, Clarkin weaved through defenders, then rifled a left-footed kick from about eight feet out past Sikeston goalie Scott Droddy, who had no chance for a stop.
Clarkin struck again at the 20:44 mark to stake the Titans to a 2-0 halftime lead.
"Their No. 6 (Clarkin) was amazing," said Long. "We really didn't have an answer for him."
Although outshot by a wide margin, 22-7, the Bulldogs hung tough, narrowing the margin to 2-1 on Scott Gardner's penalty kick on a holding call at the 38:13 mark.
"We found a way to get back in the game, just like last year," said Long, referring to the Bulldogs' first trip to the quarterfinals last season, which resulted in a 3-1 loss to Affton.
Sikeston (13-11) fell behind 2-0 early in that game, also, then closed the gap at 2-1 before Affton scored a late goal.
With momentum seemingly on the side of the Bulldogs after Gardner's goal, they could simply find no way to penetrate the Titan defense.
Said Long, "Blake (leading scorer Taylor) made one play, but other than that, we just didn't get many chances. We really couldn't get Blake into the game."
Although playing with high energy, the Bulldogs' inability to mount any serious scoring thrusts eventually took its toll.
With time ticking away, Clarkin's third goal, off a missed clearing kick by a Sikeston defender, found the net with 8:16 left and his fourth came with 4:41 to go.
"We played good 'D' but they had about three guys that were threats (to score)," said Long. "A couple (goals), I think we could have slapped out, but when you give a team that many chances, they're going to put some away."
One of those threats, leading scorer Jack McKenna, was shut down, primarily by the defensive work of freshman Dakota Trevino. Trevino and his teammates limited McKenna to just two shots.
Goalkeeper Droddy had another nice performance for the Bulldogs with 14 saves.
"Droddy played well," said Long. "Some of those shots were point-blank. There was nothing he could do about them."
The Trinity goalie Tim Boruff, credited with two saves, was hardly tested.
Defensively, the Bulldogs received solid play from stopper Ryan Beaird and sweeper Adam Gillean.
"They did a good job," said Long. "They got peppered back there. I thought they shut it down pretty good after those first two goals."
Long also lauded the passing game of Chris Carnell, on the wing.
In addition to its edge in shots on goal, Trinity held a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks, 9-5 in free kicks.
Trinity (16-6-4) advances to the semifinals against Moberly (19-5-3) while undefeated Priory (24-0) faces Cassville (23-4) in the other Class 2 semifinal.