(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Not content with what was an already record setting 14-win campaign, the Sikeston Bulldogs kept their season alive Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 win over the Perryville Pirates to open up the Class 2, District 1 Tournament.
Holding a 1-0 lead going into the half, Sikeston added two more goals in the second half to end any chance at a Pirate comeback and secure a spot in the championship game.
"I thought overall we played very well," Bulldogs coach Doyle Noe said. "In the second half we didn't settle and we didn't stay back on defense.
"We kept playing wide open, put two more in and won going away instead of playing eight guys in the box and just trying to hold on."
Wasting no time, Sikeston's Hunter Williams put the Bulldogs up early when he found the net just five minutes into the game for the first of his two goals on the night.
Getting a free kick from the right side of the net, Williams hit a shot high and to the right side of the net just out of the reach of Perryville's keeper.
"That definitely took a lot of pressure off us and made me chill out a little bit," Williams said.
After both teams went scoreless through the rest of the first half, it was the Bulldogs scoring once again nearly five minutes in of the second half.
On what would be the first of his two assists on the game, Josh Bill worked the ball in close to the left side of the net before passing to an open Evan Underwood on the right side who volleyed it in to give Sikeston the 2-0 lead.
"We came out the second half and got that goal pretty quick," Underwood said. "From that point on we were in control of the game."
About twenty minutes later it was Bill again coming up with a clutch pass, this time to Williams who had beaten his defender as he closed in on the net to leave only the keeper to challenge.
With Bill making a clean pass, Williams was able to get a clean shot off that easily slipped pass the goalie to put the Bulldogs up 3-0 and essentially icing the game.
Stopping everything that came his way, Sikeston goalie Michael Gipson tied a school record with what was his eighth shutout of the year. A record that was previously set by Scott Droddy in 2005.
Having gotten past Perryville, the Bulldogs will now face longtime rival and tournament host Notre Dame High School for the district title Tuesday at 6 p.m.
This season, Notre Dame holds the edge against Sikeston as they took the two team's last meeting 1-0 in overtime.
"It was a good game," Noe said. "I think it was back and forth. Both sides had chances to score. They kind of caught us on a corner kick in over time and put one in to beat us 1-0."
Always excited to play their biggest rival, Williams couldn't be happier about getting another crack at Notre Dame with the district title on the line.
"We're ready for Notre Dame," Williams said. "We're here and this is what we've been waiting on all year. It couldn't come any sooner."