(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Early in the 2011 soccer season, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs have been looking for a spark. On Thursday night, they may have gotten it.
Entrenched in a three-game losing streak, the Lady Bulldogs won a dramatic game against Anna-Jonesboro, Ill., defeating the Wildcats 2-1 in a penalty kick shootout.
After the game was tied at 1-1 through regulation and two overtimes, Sikeston and Anna-Jonesboro went to penalty kicks, with Doyle Noe making a calculating move.
Instead of going with starting goalie Trenice Greer, Noe decided to put junior Keyonna Blissett in goal for the penalty kicks, somewhere she has never played before.
"She's not a keeper, she's just an athlete," Noe said. "She's the most athletic girl out on the field every game. I would take her over anybody as far as athletic ability. I knew she could go out there and do what she did."
The shootout began in an ominous way for Blissett as she allowed goals to Anna-Jonesboro's Kati McIntyre and Ashley Kendrick while Sikeston could only get a goal from Kristin King after their first three shots.
The third shooter for the Wildcats was Sam Coleman who sent a shot headed to the left corner of the net. Blissett dove to the left, stopping the shot and Anna-Jonesboro's momentum.
Sikeston then got a goal from Madison Chaney while Anna-Jonesboro's Timbre Craig sent a shot wide right of the goal, leaving the shootout tied at 2-2.
Blissett then reversed roles for a short time, and sent a shot into the upper right corner of the net past the leaping Valerie Pender, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 3-2 lead and making the next kick for Anna-Jonesboro do-or-die.
The Wildcats' Cortni Hicks sent a shot to the right but Blissett reached out and knocked the ball down, earning Sikeston their second win of the young season.
"I was just taking a wild guess," Blissett laughed when asked about the winning save.
"(Keyonna) made some big saves and stepped up and made the game-winning goal in the shootout and had an assist earlier in the game," Noe said. "She did it all tonight and had a really, really good game and I'm proud of Keyonna."
Sikeston looked to have the game in hand early, getting a goal midway through the first half from Kelsey Jenkins. With 19:50 left in the first half, Blissett sent a shot at the goal from the right side and as Pender deflected the ball, Jenkins was there for the rebound, giving Sikeston a 1-0 lead.
Jenkins, who had played mostly at sweeper for the Lady Bulldogs, was moved to a forward Thursday and the move payed off.
"She had been playing sweeper in the back and we moved her forward to try to get a little more energy," Noe said. "She's a very aggressive, energetic type of player that likes to mix it up and we needed that in our offense.
"Madison Chaney went back to defense and she played well back there and Kelsey played well up top and scored the first goal to get us going and we're probably going to stick with that move and hope it works out."
Sikeston held the lead until the 30:53 mark of the second half when Courtney Kendrick slipped a ball past Greer, to tie the game at 1-1.
"It was kind of a defensive lapse," Noe said. "I think Trenice would tell you that she makes that save more than she doesn't but she stepped up and made some saves toward the end and the defense tightened up. The girls kept their heads up and kept playing hard."
With the game tied, Sikeston continued their aggressive play and had several chances to get the win in regulation and overtime, none more than a left-foot shot from Blissett midway through the first overtime that went just high.
Even though they missed several opportunities, Sikeston kept pressing and eventually forced the shootout where they improved to 2-3 on the season.
"We finally got our chemistry and our rhythm going and played our game," Blissett said. "That's what we should have done in the beginning but it takes time."