Bulldogs tote 21-1 mark into district tourney

Monday, October 30, 2006

Top-seeded Notre Dame will try to end Sikeston's two-year reign.


Southeast Missourian

The Notre Dame boys soccer team has enjoyed perhaps its best regular season in program history.

The Bulldogs have rarely been challenged, pouring on goal after goal while holding their opponents down.

With a 21-1 mark, the Bulldogs head into the Class 2 District 1 tournament as the top seed and will play No. 4 De Soto at 5 p.m. today. Notre Dame was the lone team in the seven-team district to earn a bye, as three games took place Saturday at Sikeston.

Sikeston, the No. 3 seed, is the two-time defending district champion. Notre Dame has not won a district title since bringing home the program's lone state title in 2002. Last year, Notre Dame fell to Sikeston in a shootout following a scoreless tie through regulation and overtime.

"There's never any givens in sports," Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn said. "You can control how well you're prepared and how well you're focused in the game.

"You can't control everything. Sometimes it breaks your heart. If you go out and do the right things you can hold your head up. I wasn't disappointed how we played last year."

The Bulldogs have had their most productive season on offense. Senior forward Jack Wedemeier has set the single-season goal-scoring mark with 26 tallies so far, and Notre Dame has scored 100 goals as a team.

Junior forward Ryan Willen, a 6-foot-7 basketball standout, has provided a major weapon for the Bulldogs on free-kicks and is second on the team with 19 goals.

Fellow junior Ty Williams has 17 goals, and senior Abe Dirnberger has 12 goals. Williams, Wedemeier and Dirnberger each have 15 assists.

"I think we'll be a tough matchup for this tournament," Wittenborn said. "We have a lot of weapons. We score a lot of different ways. The team passes the ball well and moves the ball around."

Defensively, the Bulldogs have been able to keep sophomore goalie Ryan Bass' workload low for the most part. Notre Dame has surrendered just eight goals this season, and no more than two in any one game.

"They've played very well," Wittenborn said. "They'd be right up there with the best defenses we've had. The whole defense has played well together. For a sophomore, Ryan Bass is a great leader in the backfield. He's vocal and helps with matchups."

The tournament championship is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

In Class 3, Jackson will get its turn to enter the District 1 tournament as the top seed.

Central has been the district favorite in recent years, claiming the past five titles and six of the last seven. The Tigers are seeded second despite a 1-0-1 record against the Indians.

Jackson will open play 7:30 tonight against Northwest, which defeated Hillsboro 3-2 on Saturday. Central will play No. 3 Poplar Bluff at 5 p.m. today.

The final is 6 p.m. Wednesday.

In Class 1, Saxony Lutheran will get its first taste of district play at the District 1 tournament hosted by Festus St. Pius. The Crusaders are the No. 3 seed and will play Kennett at 7 p.m. tonight.

Bayless is seeded first and St. Pius is second. The semifinals are Tuesday -- Saxony or Kennett will meet St. Pius at 7 p.m. -- and the final is 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Crusaders have gone 10-3 in their inaugural season, including a pair of wins against Kennett.

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