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Girls soccer preview: SHS putting in hard work in search of title

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SIKESTON -- The Sikeston soccer team is coming off of their best season in school history, but as the 2011 season approaches the Lady Bulldogs realize there is still work to do.

The Sikeston girls soccer team works on conditioning during practice on Thursday. Sikeston will open their season on Tuesday at Harrisburg, Ill.
(David Jenkins, Staff)
"We are hoping to win districts this year and I think we can be ready," said senior Blair Kelley. "Coach is really working us hard this year."

Hard work seems to be the key phrase around the Lady Bulldogs, with the ultimate goal being a district title, something that eluded Sikeston last season.

The Lady Bulldogs, who finished with a school record 15 wins, lost in the district championship game 6-3 to arch rival Notre Dame, a game that has left Sikeston with a bitter taste in their mouths.

"That's the last game of the year and you have to think about that completely until next year," said Sikeston coach Doyle Noe, who takes over as head coach after being an assistant for the last several years. "It gives you something to build on and we want to be playing well and ready to go at the end of the season."

With Noe at the helm, a renewed emphasis has been placed on conditioning and technique.

"We come to practice and we know exactly what we are going to do every time," said senior Sarah Hopson. "He will work us hard on a drill and then we will run, he will work us hard on another drill and then we will run."

"We are definitely going to be in better shape this year and have better techniques," Kelley said. "We don't come to practice for fun anymore, we come to practice to work hard and get better."

Kelley and Hopson as well as fellow senior Sydney Davied, return from last year's team as well as a host of others with game experience.

Among those is all-state forward Keyonna Blissett. The junior scored 20 goals last season and was named the Class 2 Southeast Region Co-offensive Player of the Year. She was also named as first team all-region and all-conference.

"(Keyonna) had a phenomenal year last season and we're really excited to get her back," Noe said. "We are going to look for her to do even better things this year.

"Kelsey Jenkins is probably my leader on defense. She plays in the back and is my speech captain and we look for her to get going too."

Jenkins, a junior defender, was first team all-conference last year and an all-region honorable mention. Sophomore Madison Chaney is also back after being named an all-conference honorable mention last year, as well as junior Kristin King, who scored several big goals for the Lady Bulldogs.

While Sikeston lost two key leaders in Emily Eaves and Abby Harper to graduation, Noe thinks leadership will be stronger this season with the amount of experience returning.

"Sarah Hopson, Sydney Davied and Blair Kelley have been with me for all four years and I expect leadership from them and Kelsey Jenkins, Keyonna Blissett and Kristin King have played a lot of soccer, as well," Noe said. "Leadership will be strong. I can already tell these girls are out here to work and not come just halfway to practice everyday."

And fueling that hard work is the drive to finish what they started last year which included a victory over Notre Dame in the regular season, just the second time Sikeston had ever beaten their rivals. Now, it isn't just a district title the Lady Bulldogs want.

"I really want to win districts but I also want to beat Notre Dame again like last year," Davied said. "Coach has been working us harder, getting us more in shape and work on techniques more. I think we're going to be ready."

Sikeston opens the season on March 22 when they travel to Harrisburg, Ill. The Lady Bulldogs play their first home game on March 28 when they get their first chance at Notre Dame.