(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON--The Sikeston Bulldog varsity soccer team downed the Marion, Ill., Wildcats 3-0 in Sikeston Tuesday evening to pick up their first win of the season.
"Last week we went on an 0-for-4 drought to start the season, but every game we've been improving," Sikeston head coach Derrick Long said. "Defensively, everyone has had to get used to playing with each other and it looked like we were getting there tonight."
The match started as a back and forth battle of defense and ball control. But, Sikeston broke the dead lock with 2:14 left in the first half when the Bulldogs Joe Lott powered one past the Marion goaltender off of the assist by Mikey Botkin.
The first half of play ended with Sikeston leading 1-0.
After the break, Marion came out attacking the ball with vigor, which forced Sikeston to adjust their game.
"We (Sikeston coaches) knew that Marion was going to come out after the half and really push the ball and that they would be moving more guys up," Long said. "There were 15 minutes there in the first half that they (Marion) really controlled the ball. We did a great job of staying composed and letting Marion's energy die down."
Sikeston regained the momentum at the 22-minute mark of the second half on the goal of Daniel Sanders. Sanders was assisted by Hector Lemus on the goal, in which he broke away from the Marion defenders, faked out their goaltender, and lofted the ball over his head to bring the score to 2-0 Sikeston.
Sikeston added another score with two minutes left in the match off another lofting goal, this time by Jordan Davis, with the assist coming from goaltender Jason Isaacs. The game would end 3-0 Sikeston.
Long feels that things are really beginning to fall in place with his team.
"We have a real young team," Long said. "The defensive schemes we are using are a little complicated. You have to be in the right spots and make the right runs to be effective. Its starting to click. Things are starting to open up for us offensively. That was nice."
Long pointed to his defensive back field as a major impact in the match.
Long feels goaltending was particularly significant in Sikeston's win Tuesday.
"Our goalkeeping was great," he said. "Jason Isaacs did a great job tonight. This was his first shutout of the year. He's been in the shadows of Scott Droddy for the past couple of years. Jason has really come in to his own. He's been working hard and its really starting to pay off."
Long believes that picking up this win against Marion will give the team much needed momentum as they head into the heart of their schedule.
"This team (Marion) got fourth place in the Notre Dame tournament last weekend, where we did not do well at all," he said. "To come out here and beat them like this was great.
"This is just a big win for us. No matter what happens in the near future, we know what we can do now."
The Marion junior varsity defeated the junior varsity Bulldogs 6-1. Sikeston's lone goal came from Evan Deere.
The Bulldogs will be back in action today with an away match in Kennett.