(Photo by Chris Moore, Staff)
Just a few weeks ago, Notre Dame blitzed Sikeston 6-1, but the Bulldogs responded with an inspired effort at home.
"We tinkered with the lineup tonight and had a more defensive-minded formation," said Sikeston head coach Derrick Long. "Notre Dame is a very solid team and no other team they have played this year has held them to two goals or fewer. It is a challenge to keep them under control defensively because they pass and shoot extremely well. Their crosses are almost unstoppable when they are clicking."
The scenario from the last game replayed itself as Notre Dame controlled the action much of the game. Sikeston was outshot 19-2 in the first half, as much of the action was exclusively in Notre Dame's half of the pitch.
"We had a nice effort out there today," said Notre Dame head coach Brad Wittenborn. "We created a lot of shots but I was not pleased with our passing tonight. We can do a better job than we did."
Sikeston played back on defense ever conscious of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Even scoring machine Blake Taylor played back to help out the defense.
"We didn't concentrate on Taylor on offense because they have been using him in the backfield to help out the midfielders," said Wittenborn. "Blake is a dangerous offensive player and is deadly in the air. So we have to have an idea of where he is on the field."
Notre Dame peppered Sikeston goalie Scott Droddy all game long. At 18:00 of the first half, Notre Dame put intense pressure on goal and had several point blank looks at the net. After a couple of nice saves by Droddy, Abe Dirnberger put a shot past a diving Droddy to put Notre Dame up 1-0. John Unterreiner was credited with the assist for Notre Dame.
Despite the disparity in shots for the first half, Sikeston only trailed by one goal.
"Last game against these guys we were down 5-0 at the half," said Long. "So I guess we have made some progress. Scott had a big game for us and kept us close when in reality we had no business being that close to them. I also give credit to freshman Jordan Davis who played all out on defense."
Notre Dame kept up their offensive momentum in the second half as they outshot Sikeston 18-5. Much of the success for Notre Dame can be contributed to their excellent midfield play led by 6-foot-7 Ryan Willen.
"Ryan is just so hard to get the ball from due to his size," said Wittenborn. "He played a heck of a game and found people when they were open which led to some good opportunities on goal for us."
Notre Dame's leading scorer Jack Wedemeier was marked well all game by the Sikeston defense, but Wedemeier found some room 20 yards out from goal and put a wicked shot past Droddy at 52:00 to make the final score 2-0 in favor of Notre Dame. Unterreiner was once again credited with the assist.
"Wedemeier is just an excellent player with a good leg," said Long. "Thank goodness he is a senior. That kid can really shoot the ball."
Notre Dame outshot Sikeston 37-7 in the contest. Goalie Nick Wren was not challenged much in the game and picked up the shutout win. It should be noted that Wren is the third string goalie for Notre Dame. The first two goalies were out with injuries according to Wittenborn.
"Overall, I am semi-pleased with our game tonight," said Long. "It is hard to have Blake, (Chris) Carnell and Timmy (Hart) involved on the offensive end when Notre Dame is controlling the action in their end."
Notre Dame (5-0) travels to St. Louis to take on state power Whitfield today.
Sikeston (1-4-1) will compete in the Owensboro, Ky., tournament over the weekend that will feature Owensboro Catholic, Union Co., Tenn. and New Albany, Ind.
Sikeston will face New Albany on Saturday at noon in their first game of the tourney.