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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

SHS drops district title game to rival Notre Dame

Sunday, May 23, 2010

(Photo)
Sikeston coach Derrick Long applauds as seniors Emily Eaves (left) and Abby Harper come out in the final minutes of the Class 2, District 1 championship game against Notre Dame on Friday in Farmington. David Jenkins, Staff
FARMINGTON -- Holding a 1-0 lead early in the championship game of the Class 2, District 1 Tournament against Notre Dame, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs seemed to have all the momentum.

But it wasn't enough.

Notre Dame scored three goals in a span of 10 minutes at the end of the first half and kept scoring in the second, downing Sikeston 6-3 to claim their second-straight district title and sixth overall.

Sikeston, playing in their first district championship game since 2005, looked to be the veterans early, scoring in the third minute when Keyonna Blissett took a pass from Kristin King and found the net, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

"We knew we had to jump on them early," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "We stressed that before the game."

Sikeston seemed to dominate the play for the first 20 minutes, denying all Notre Dame scoring chances with the stingy defense they had been known for all season long. However, Notre Dame broke their scoreless drought in the 30th minute when Anna Wren headed in a corner kick from Katherine Blasiney to even the score.

In the 37th minute, Notre Dame scored again when Meghan Dohogne found the net on an assist Hali Rendleman, gaining a 2-1 advantage. Notre Dame then seized momentum right before the half when Rendleman scored on an assist from Shelby Dix as Sikeston found themselves down 3-1 at halftime.

"That third goal right there before the half really deflated us," Long said. "I bet there was 30 seconds left on the clock. Getting that one was big for (Notre Dame), because if we are just down one goal at half, you never know what can happen."

One reason for Notre Dame's success may have been the injury to Sikeston senior Emily Eaves. The senior twisted her knee in the third minute and had to leave the game. Eaves returned but played in obvious pain the rest of the game.

"They hit a lot of seams on our defensive end and we retreated a lot on defense," Long said. "It hurt us with Eaves going down early because we weren't able to play her in that center-mid. We were getting pretty beat up in the mid and when that happens your defense retreats."

Notre Dame carried the momentum from the first half into the second half when Allyson Bradshaw found the net less than a minute into play, putting Sikeston in a 4-1 hole.

However, Sikeston didn't quit, and cut the lead to 4-2 when Madison Chaney scored off of a rebound in the 47th minute.

Notre Dame grabbed a three-goal advantage back in the 63rd minute after Sikeston goalie Asia Liggins made a diving save and watched as the ball ricocheted back into play. The Sikeston defense was unable to clear the ball however, and Dix scored, giving Notre Dame a 5-2 lead.

Five minutes later, Notre Dame went ahead 6-2 when Brianne Sanders scored, seemingly putting the game away.

Sikeston had one more goal left in them as Eaves capped off her Sikeston career with a goal off a rebound in front of the net with 10 minutes remaining in the game, cutting the lead to 6-3. Unfortunately for Sikeston, they were not able to find the net again and had to watch as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

"I'm proud of us," said senior Abby Harper. "We fought hard for 80 minutes. They were just the better team."

"I'm proud of the girls," Long said. "We've had a heck of a season, being so young and only having two seniors. Going into tonight if you would have said we were going to score three goals tonight I would have thought we were going to win.

"We could have quit when we were down 4-1 and instead we scored two more goals. Anybody who was here from Sikeston had to be proud of the way the team fought. Tip your hat to (Notre Dame), they were better tonight."

Sikeston finishes the season with a record of 15-8, setting a school record in wins and making the district championship game for only the second time in history. The Lady Bulldogs lose two seniors (Eaves and Harper) and will return a wealth of experience next season.

"The future is real bright," Long said. "Emily Eaves is a big hole to fill in the mid and Abby Harper played solid defense for us all year on the outside. That is two spots that a couple freshman or a couple of these bench players will step up and be ready to go. We have some really big parts coming back."

Among those parts are leading goal scorers Blissett, King and Chaney as well as Liggins in goal and Kelsey Jenkins on defense.

"Every year someone big comes up so all we have to do is come together and we will be just as good as this year," Blissett said.