(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Abby Harper, Emily Eaves and the rest of the Sikeston girls soccer team have etched their names in the Lady Bulldogs' record book.
The Lady Bulldogs have won more games than any other team in the program's history and added another to that total Thursday defeating Fredericktown 3-0 on Senior Night, improving their record to 13-7.
"We started out as a young team and I believe we've surpassed expectations," said Harper who along with Eaves was honored before the game as the lone seniors. "We've done better than any girls team has ever done (at Sikeston). We got the second seed in districts and have the most wins, so we're happy."
Harper and Eaves have been a big reason for the success of the Lady Bulldogs this season. Harper, a two-year starter, has anchored the outstanding defense for Sikeston from her outside defender position.
"We lose our shape sometimes but I feel like we play together pretty well," Harper said.
"(Abby's) had a good two seasons on varsity," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "She has some pretty good speed there and we usually have her marking their best forward. She's done a really good job back there and we never have to worry about taking her out. We know we have that side taken care of."
Eaves has been a four-year starter for the Lady Bulldogs and has been a fixture on the field at numerous positions, serving as a midfielder this season.
"We came out this year with nothing to lose and I think we've proved to everybody that we can hold our own against anybody," Eaves said.
Long said losing Eaves will be a big void for the Lady Bulldogs next season.
"(Emily's) got probably one of the best throw-ins we've ever had and she's a force in the middle," Long said. "She's real aggressive and makes good passes to our forwards.
"Both (Eaves and Harper) are big leaders and two of our captains. Abby is the vocal one and Emily does it by showing them the effort out there on the field."
Harper and Eaves once again led Lady Bulldogs to victory Thursday night as they took the pitch at Sikeston for a final time.
Sikeston came out sluggish in the first half Thursday, spending a majority of the time on their offensive end, but only came away with one goal when Madison Chaney took an assist from Kristin King in the 18th minute to take a 1-0 lead.
"We were pretty lifeless in the first half," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "We were sluggish and not talking a lot. We picked it up in the second half and moved the ball and possessed the ball a little better."
The Lady Bulldogs got their second goal of the game when Morgan Johnson scored on a corner kick in the 43rd minute.
"I thought Morgan Johnson had a good game tonight in the center mid," Long said. "It helps when you have a presence in there that is going to win some balls and keep it on their end."
Sikeston continued to dominate the Lady Blackcats in the second half, scoring their last goal in the 69th minute when Keyonna Blissett took a pass from Kelsey Jenkins and flew past the Fredericktown defense, putting the ball just out of the keeper's reach.
With the win, Sikeston finishes the regular season and will begin district play on Monday when they take on seventh-seeded Festus at 7 p.m. in Perryville.
"We usually play better against better teams so I'm ready for it," Eaves said. "We have nothing to lose and everything to gain."
The Sikeston junior varsity team defeated Fredericktown 1-0. The Lady Bulldogs got their lone goal in the first half on a penalty kick from Monica Carter.