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Monday, June 26, 2017

Sikeston girls soccer team hoping key additions offset big losses from last season

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sikeston soccer coach Gabe Dement demonstrates a technique he wants at soccer practice Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Sikeston Sports Complex. The soccer team opens their season March 20 when they travel to Jackson, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston girls soccer team graduated three seniors that were heavily relied on within their offense, defense and midfield.

Losing three pillars of your team can certainly leave gaping holes to fill, but coach Gabe Dement believes he has the players necessary to make up for the losses.

The Bulldogs will open the season March 20 on the road against SEMO Conference opponent Jackson and will get their first look at a team without their leading scorer, leading defender and leading midfielder in the process.

Torrie Helms, Ashley Ensor and Claudea Kuykendall graduated after last season and led the Bulldogs to a 9-11-2 record as well as a district championship game appearance. All three were all-region and all-district selections.

Their roles will be filled by players who have battled injuries in the past and are expected to take the field once again as well as a handful of veterans and underclassmen who have valuable returning experience.

Patching the holes left by Helms, Kuykendall and Ensor, who provided a huge chunk of Sikeston's needs last season, was their first reloading priority.

Helms, who was also an all-conference member, led the team with 22 goals and seven assists from her forward position.

Kuykendall, who was also named to the all-conference team as an honorable mention nod, was Sikeston's second leading scorer from her midfield position with 10 goals last season.

Helms, who set the school record for goals in a single season with 35 her junior year, and Kuykendall each played their first season at the college level this fall. Helms with Kaskaskia College and Kuykendall with Webster University.

Sikeston's Larysa McClellon controls the ball at soccer practice Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Sikeston Sports Complex. The soccer team opens their season March 20 when they travel to Jackson, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
"We lost some leaders and some scorers but we return a pretty good core of players who have been a part of some big moments for Sikeston girls soccer," Dement said. "It's not like we're rebuilding. I'd say its more like reloading."

Larysa McClellon, a senior who has been bitten by injuries the past two seasons, is back and healthy and will be looked upon to help take over Helm's scoring absence.

Kylie Noe, who had a promising freshman season derailed by injury two years ago, is also back in the fold. The junior is expected to be another scoring weapon for the Bulldogs from midfield.

"Having a healthy, strong Larysa McClellon, who can't be knocked off the ball, back, hopefully she can score some big goals for us," Dement said... "Having [McClellon and Noe] both back will help us fill some gaps. They'll also help us rotate some girls in different positions to see if we can max out our offense or defense, depending on what the situation requires."

Helping their offensive attack will be junior Mackenzie Yant and sophomore Emma Jones, who will both play either a midfield or forward position.

"We expect Mackenzie Yant, Kylie Noe and Emma Jones to score for us as they have in the past," Dement said. "Noe started her freshman year on fire, scoring key goals and key assists left and right then she went down."

Yant started as a forward and outside-mid last season while Jones, an all-district selection with three goals and five assists, began to find her footing in the midfield as a freshman.

Sikeston's Kylie Lossing dribbles the ball at soccer practice Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Sikeston Sports Complex. The soccer team opens their season March 20 when they travel to Jackson, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
"She was kind of feeling her way into the lineup last year," Dement said about Jones. "She played, but you could tell she was a little hesitant to attack and be aggressive with the ball. This year she seems more likely to do that."

On defense, the Bulldogs will have to replace one of their best defenders in Ashley Ensor, who finished with one assist and anchored a defense that allowed two goals a game and had three shutouts last season. But Dement won't have to look far out of the Ensor family tree to fill that gap.

Annie Ensor, a junior who has played an outside defender position the past few years, will step into her sisters role at center.

"We graduated one of our best defenders that I've ever coached, but we'll replace her with her sister," Dement said. "She'll step into the center defender position and hopefully that works out well. It has in practice so far."

They also return seniors Kayla Curry and Kayla Graham, who have held valuable defensive roles for the Bulldogs the past two seasons. Lyndsey McClendon, a junior who was an all-district selection with five goals and one assist last season, also returns.

Madeline Witt, a senior, will resume her role as Sikeston's keeper.

"Our experience on defense is going to be pretty important this year," Dement said. "With our keeper and four defenders, we've got three seniors and two juniors. We'd like to think they'll keep us in close games.

One strength Dement hopes his team can capitalize on this season will be speed.

Sikeston's Emma Jones controls the ball at soccer practice Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Sikeston Sports Complex. The soccer team opens their season March 20 when they travel to Jackson, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
"I think we're going to be quicker than last year. We'll have a little bit more team speed than we've had in the past couple of years," Dement said. "Our starting 11 will have above average speed and that's a big factor in high school girls soccer. You can possess but can you out-run a team in certain situations or beat them to that 50-50 ball? There's going to be mistakes and I'm hoping our speed can help us capitalize on those mistakes and turn it into a chance or a goal. Inserting Larysa automatically ups the anti on speed and we have a couple of freshman with quality speed."

Sikeston's season ended last year after a 2-1 loss to Poplar Bluff in the Class 3, District 1 championship game. It was their third title game appearance in as many years. Sikeston won their first-ever district championship in 2015.

The district will look slightly different this season with reigning champion Poplar Bluff moving up to Class 4. Sikeston will be joined by Cape Central, Farmington and North County in Class 3, District 1.

"We lose Bluff, but I anticipate Cape and Farmington will be stronger than last year," Dement said. "Bottom line, I don't think our district is going to be any easier than it has been. We're going to have to show up and play two good games and we'll have to do it on the road as well."

Sikeston's first home game of the season will be March 27 against conference rival Notre Dame.


0Madeline Witt12K
3Annie Ensor11D
5Audrey Vogel10M/D
6Kayla Curry12D/M
7Kylie Noe11M
8Emma Jones10M/F
9Kylie Lossing9M
10Kayla Graham12D/K
11Jade Davis9M
12Emily Boyd9D/M
13Paige Crumpecker10D
14Mackenzie Yant11F/M
16Larysa McClellon12F/M
18Megan Witt9D
20Lyndsey McClendon11D
22Ainsley Colwick9M
23Ashton Jordan10K/M


M.20at Jackson, 5 p.m.
M23-25Noon Optimist Tourn., TBA
M.27Notre Dame, 5 p.m.
M.29at Kelly, 7 p.m.
A.3at Massac Co. Ill, 5 p.m.
A.4at Anna-Jonesboro, Ill, 4:30 p.m.
A.6at Saxony Lutheran, 4:30 p.m.
A.12Farmington, 5 p.m.
A.13Carbondale, Ill, 5 p.m.
A.18at Cape Central, 5 p.m.
A.21-22Carbondale Tourn., TBA
A.24Marion, Ill, 5 p.m.
A.25Perryville, 5 p.m.
A.27-29Notre Dame Showcase, TBA
M.1at Poplar Bluff, 6:30 p.m.
M.2Liberty (Mountain View), 5 p.m.
M.4Herrin, Ill, 5 p.m.
M.9North County, 5 p.m.
M.11at Fredericktown, 5 p.m.

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