(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs had every opportunity to put the Notre Dame Bulldogs away.
Numerous shots inside Notre Dame's goal area went unscored during Sikeston's attack, but Notre Dame's Jonathon Clements cashed in on one of the few chances the blue Bulldogs received during overtime as he punched in the game winner on Thursday night for the 1-0 win.
"We had a lot of them that bounced around but we just couldn't finish," Sikeston junior Hunter Williams said. "We were on our heels there at the end and just wasn't ready for it. We let down for five seconds and they put one in the back of the net."
Clements was heads up enough to capitalize on a broken play during a Notre Dame corner kick as the ball ping-ponged between defenders in front of goalie Michael Gipson and the Sikeston goal.
The ball ricocheted directly in front of Clements as he simply stuck his foot out and hit the back of the net.
"They probably had some of the better chances," Notre Dame head coach Brad Wittenborn said. "Those were the kind that we could have lost the game on earlier. Sikeston had a couple of scramble on corner kicks that they had and the ball bounced around."
"Everybody was just standing flat-footed and it was over in the blink of an eye," Sikeston head coach Doyle Noe said.
The red Bulldogs had many of their chances to defeat their rival for the first time in recent memory because of the way they were able to control the ball and push it to their tempo. Sikeston out-shot Notre Dame (4-1) 12-6 with half of those inside Notre Dame's goal area.
"The big thing we've got to work on is scoring," Noe said. "We've got to finish more chances. They got the one that went in on a broken play.
Noe added, "Notre Dame is a good team. They're a skilled team and I thought we played well with them. We moved the ball around, we controlled the ball and we didn't just play it out of bounds we played up and chased after it. We worked all around. I was pleased with our effort."
Although Sikeston (3-2) worked the ball around and was able to create some shots off the break, they had to contend with Notre Dame keeper James Holloway. A feat not likely very easy.
"He's as good as any around here," Noe said about Notre Dame's keeper. "He can read plays and he can get where he needs to be. We had a lot of chances, we just couldn't finish tonight.
"It's frustrating that you go that hard for 80 minutes and then go overtime and you can't put one away."
Gipson kept his ground in front of Sikeston's net as well. As regulation time was winding down, Gipson came up with two saves inside the last five minutes of the second half that could have easily ended the game in regulation.
A save with 41 seconds remaining eventually led to a Sikeston breakaway where Tyler Neal and Gavin O'Brien tried to work for a game-winning shot but an offsides call ended regulation.
"I feel like we controlled the whole game," Williams said. "We worked hard and we felt like it was our game. We need to come out next time and finish. They're obviously a team that we want to play a lot and we want to do well against. It kind of shows where we're at."
Although Noe and the rest of the Bulldogs suffered a tough loss, they were proud of the way they battled one of the top programs of the region and is confident they will see them again.
"I guarantee you (this game) will be in the back of their head now for districts," said Noe. "They've got a fight on their hands and I think they will think a little more about us. Overall, I'm pleased. You hate to lose it but I think we won a lot of battles and I think we'll see them again."