(David Jenkins, Staff)
Sikeston (13-7) enters the tournament as the two seed and will take on No. 7 Festus at 7 p.m. Monday in Perryville.
"Being the two seed over the seven, we can't look past that game," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "We've never been that high of seed and been in this situation, so I'm hoping we have our blinders on and we go to work Monday night and don't look ahead."
Festus enters the game with a record of 7-12. They are led in scoring by senior Josephine Flojt who has 11 goals and four assists on the season. Senior Krysta Bradford leads the team in assists with five.
"Festus is really a scrappy team," Long said. "They've got a good scorer up top and a good sweeper on defense. I think we match-up well against them in the other areas, but if we can hold their fast forward down up top, I think we can get some good scoring opportunities against them on counter-attacks."
Sikeston comes in with the most wins in the program's history and has been led in scoring all season by sophomores Keyonna Blissett and Kristin King with senior Emily Eaves getting them the ball. Sophomore Asia Liggins has been stellar in goal while senior Abby Harper and sophomore Kelsey Jenkins anchor a tough defense.
If Sikeston defeats Festus on Monday, they would take on the winner of third seeded Perryville and sixth-seeded Windsor at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at a site to be determined.
"If we do get past (Festus), that second game will be a tough one no matter who wins," Long said. "It is a pretty even district this year and I think that any of the top six seeds can win it. If we can just have some bounces go our way, and maybe get started with an early goal in one of these games, anything can happen."
On the other side of the bracket, Notre Dame received the top seed in the tournament and will play the winner Fredericktown and North County on Monday. DeSoto, the fourth seed, will take on fifth seeded Farmington on Monday as well.
The Lady Bulldogs have one luxury in that they have already defeated both Notre Dame and Perryville this season. Sikeston lost to Notre Dame 4-0 early in the season but beat them on penalty kicks 4-3 on April 28. A night before, the Lady Bulldogs rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Perryville 4-2.
Having already beaten the one and three seeds could be a help or a hinderance to the Lady Bulldogs.
"It gives you confidence and sets a trap for your team too," Long said. "They get complacent and think 'we've done this.' We just have to keep them focused on the same thing we've focused on all year, and that is to get to the district championship."
Sikeston has never won the district championship game and last made it to the finals five years ago, something Long wants to rectify.
"Making the district championship has been our goal all year long," Long said. "We've had a great season, a great record, but if we don't attain that goal it is going to be a disappointment for a lot of these girls and for Coach (Doyle) Noe and I.
"We're just going to strap on our shin guards and go see if we can get to that district championship game and anything can happen there."