(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
FARMINGTON -- With a chance at redemption, the Perryville Lady Pirates brought everything they could at the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday night but somehow, the Lady Bulldogs withstood the storm.
"Perryville came out fired up," Sikeston head coach Derrick Long added. "They came out with a lot more intensity than we did. We couldn't match it in the first half.
"We got lucky that we escaped without them scoring that half."
After dodging the Lady Pirates in the first 40 minutes, Sikeston punched in two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half which led to a 2-1 Class 2, District 1 tournament win at Farmington.
Sikeston (15-7) defeated the Lady Pirates earlier this season after Perryville squandered an early 2-0 lead with four straight goals in the second half.
With the ball spending most of it's time in Sikeston's field on Wednesday, the Lady Pirates tried mightily to gain the early advantage. They won almost every 50/50 possession and beat the Lady Bulldogs to virtually every ball.
"They wanted it more than we did in the first half," Sikeston senior Emily Eaves said. "They're a good team. They came out real aggressive."
However, the Lady Bulldog defense held strong. Sikeston goalie Asia Liggins did her part by scooping up shots while defenders such as Abby Harper, Kelsey Jenkins, as well as many others, cleared balls and kept the charging Lady Pirates at bay.
"It's all about our mentality," Eaves said. "If we get it in our heads that we can win we can beat anybody."
The initial shock of Perryville's first half aggressiveness eventually wore down. And it didn't take long for the Lady Bulldogs to take advantage.
Freshman Madison Chaney scored Sikeston's first goal at the 42nd minute mark on a corner kick from Kristin King. The kick sailed just in front of the goal and began bouncing back and forth between Sikeston and Perryville players. Kelley got the first good shot on it but was blocked. Chaney, then came swooping in and gave a delicate kick right past Perryville's goal keeper for the 1-0 advantage.
"Sometimes you don't have to kick it hard to get it in," Long said. "She was in the right place and just put a nice touch on it past the keeper."
Riding the momentum of Chaney's goal, a short seven minutes ticked off the clock until the Lady Bulldogs scored their second and final goal of the night. Keyonna Blissett put in the eventual game-winner with a shot that sailed just over the Lady Pirates' keeper at the 49-minute mark.
"That was a big heads up for us," Blissett said about Chaney's goal. "It kind of helped us all with motivation. (My goal) was pretty much a desperate need for a goal."
"It was nice for Madison to get that first goal," Long added. "We had a few chances at it. And then, that second goal was big. It was a good shot by Keyonna from the outside. We've been working with her to shoot from a little further out and it was nice that it finally paid off."
Perryville answered with a goal at the 55-minute mark with a bloop kick that just snuck up and over the reaching arms of Liggins to make it 2-1 with just over 24 minutes remaining.
With time dwindling down and nothing to lose, Perryville once again became the aggressor and frantically tried to punch in the tying goal. The Lady Bulldog defense, again, held their ground.
"Just don't let them score," Eaves said about the final minutes. "We just wanted to clear the ball up the field, get it out and try to get another one.
"We don't want it back in our kitchen. We want to push it up as far as we can."
"We started retreating in our goalies area and they pushed everyone up," Long said about Perryville's final push. "They didn't have anything to lose so they brought everything but the kitchen sink at us."
The No. 2 seeded Lady Bulldogs prevailed the Lady Pirates final attempts and will now face a familiar foe in the district championship game; the Notre Dame Lady Bulldogs.
"They're still the favorite," Long said about the No. 1 seed. "They're the one seed and they've been the one seed for the last six or seven years. They're still the team that everyone wants to try and knock off.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us."
The Lady Bulldogs of Sikeston defeated Notre Dame for just the second time since 2002 earlier this season. Sikeston has also lost to Notre Dame as well.
"It's possible," Blissett said. "But, you don't go in already thinking you have the game. You just go and play your hardest."
"We know that we can beat them," added Eaves. "We've came this far and we're not going to back down. We've got a day to regroup.
"I think we can do it -- I know we can do it."
The Class 2, District 1 championship game will be played on Friday at 6 p.m. in Farmington.