(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON--The Poplar Bluff Mules soccer team outlasted the Sikeston Bulldogs for the 2-1 win Tuesday evening at the Sikeston Complex.
Sikeston head coach Derrick Long was both pleased and frustrated at the same time after Tuesday's game.
"I was pleased with our effort," Long said. "But, it's frustrating to come in knowing that you have a good chance to win the game, then to dominate so many aspects of the game, and not have the breaks go our way. That's hard."
The Bulldogs came out strong at the start of the game. They controlled the ball very well and had several shots and corner kick situations in the first 20 minutes of the first half.
Sikeston's defense was sound in that same time frame preventing the Mules from making many scoring runs and Bulldogs goalkeeper Jason Isaacs defending the few shots Poplar Bluff did get off.
However, it was the Mules who struck first. Poplar Bluff's Josh Thompson scored on a penalty kick at the 22:20 mark that resulted from a foul inside the box.
Sikeston attempted a penalty kick of their own with 10:47 left in the first half that was stopped by the diving grab of the Mules goalkeeper.
Poplar Bluff was able to defend Sikeston's continuing shots on their goal until the first half ended 1-0 Mules.
The second half was a defensive struggle for the first ten minutes.
Poplar Bluff was able to extend their lead to 2-0 with another successful penalty kick by Josh Thompson 12 minutes into the second half.
Sikeston rallied in the last 20 minutes making several shots on the Mules goal.
The Bulldogs finally got things going with 7:49 left in the game when Jordan Davis scored on a breakaway run.
Sikeston was inches from tying the game up with five minutes left in the game when forward Aaron Young's shot bounced off the crossbar.
Sikeston's Davis felt good about his teams effort Tuesday night.
"We left everything we had on the field tonight," he said. "And we are going to pick that right up where we left off tomorrow."
Long pointed to the penalty kicks as his teams undoing.
"We probably out shot them 3-to-1," he said. "We gave up two penalty kicks. Most teams have two penalty kicks against them a year. To have two go against us tonight is tough to swallow. That's just the way our breaks have been going to the penalty kicks as his teams undoing."
Long said desire is not what his team lacks.
"I was pleased with our effort," he said. "But eventually we have to find a way to turn this thing around. We are all frustrated. We are working so hard and things just don't go our way. We've always had the drive and effort in our program. Our skills are starting to get there, but so many of these teams are ahead of us with that. So we have to out work and out hustle a lot of these teams to have a shot at winning, and that's what we do every game."
Long said he and his team will continue to work at improvement.
"We're just going to keep working. We've changed formations and used different people. But, eventually its out of our hands as coaches and our players have to step up. They've started to do that, but we have to keep it up and continue to improve."