(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs soccer team withstood a tough and physical battle against the Marion Wildcats on Tuesday night winning in a tight 2-1 match.
"Marion's always a strong, physical and good team," Sikeston head coach Doyle Noe said. "They're always a good opponent so, to beat Marion, that's a quality win for sure."
The Bulldogs started the game with many scoring opportunities thwarted away. Sikeston senior Evan Underwood made three quick drives to the net in the first 11 minutes but was blocked on two and hit the left goal post on a penalty kick.
They finally broke through with just two minutes left in the first half when freshman Gavin O'Brien won a ball away from a Marion player, kicked it around him to the outside and drove a shot to the far post that beat the Wildcat keeper.
"He hustles, he's quick and he earns his time with his play," said Noe. "That was a hustle goal. That was a really good one from Gavin. I've been really pleased on how he's come along as a freshman."
Going into the second half riding O'Brien's goal, the Bulldogs would suffer a slight set back. A goal by the Wildcats within the first five minutes of the half tied the game at one goal apiece.
However, Underwood was able to break free and score his third goal of the season at the 48-minute mark to give the Bulldogs what would eventually be the game-deciding score.
"He showed some leadership," Noe said about Sikeston's game-winning goal. "He took control and he put a lot of effort in the next five minutes to stop them and make sure the momentum wasn't going to switch to them.
"You always like to see your team show some heart and put one right back in to jump back on them," Noe added. "(Marion) fought to the end. You have to give them credit. They had a lot of chances there but our defense stayed strong and held back there. I was really proud of them."
Noe said he was also proud of his team for keeping their composure in a tight, scrappy match involving two physical teams. Yellow cards were not uncommon between the two teams on Tuesday night.
"I'm just proud of them for how they kept their composure and how they kept going about the game," he said. "You like to see that. You like to see these kids rise above that and keep it clean for the most part. They don't get enough credit for that, these kids. They do more than the average student and a lot of kids wouldn't have been able to keep their heads after some of the stuff out here tonight."
That same style will more than likely show up again on Thursday night when Sikeston (3-1) plays host to their rival, the Notre Dame Bulldogs in what could be seen as Sikeston's toughest test in their young season.
"We'll see what happens," said Noe. "It's a big rival. It's a fun rivalry but there's a lot of competition.
"They're good," Noe added. "They're a solid team every year and if we want to do anything in districts we're going to have to go through Notre Dame. We'll kind of see where we're at on Thursday."
The Sikeston junior varsity moved to 3-0 on the season as they dispatched Marion 2-1 on Tuesday.
Brandon Goodwin scored both goals for the jayvee Bulldogs.