As Notre Dame soccer players and fans flooded the field to celebrate, Perryville soccer coach Jerry Fulton could just watch and shake his head.
“It just stinks,” Fulton said of the loss. “We had a fantastic season and for it to end this way, it just stinks.”
Notre Dame's celebration came after finishing off a 3-0 victory over Perryville (17-6) in the Class 2, District 1 final on Wednesday at The Bank of Missouri Soccer Complex in Perryville.
For Fulton and his team, suffering a loss to Notre Dame (15-5-1) has happened far too frequently for their liking. Perryville fell to Notre Dame in last season’s district tournament, and again in the teams’ lone regular season matchup on Oct. 5 in Cape Girardeau.
In all, Perryville has lost eight consecutive times to the Bulldogs. Their last victory came on Sept. 2, 2016.
That record has stuck in the collective craw of the Pirates all summer as they returned a core of six seniors, five of them starters that had never tasted victory against Notre Dame. Unfortunately for them, that streak continued.
“These seniors had put everything into this season, to win this specific game, and to see us come up short again, it hurts,” Fulton said.
Notre Dame scored three goals — two by senior Griffin Stewart and another by Evan Bruenderman — in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Bruenderman's goal — scored after a bouncing ball glanced off a couple of his teammates and a few Perryville defenders — broke a 0-0 tie in the 60th minute.
Stewart scored two minutes later as he beat Perryville goalkeeper Ty Baudendistel to the ball and it glanced off the inside of the post and in for the second tally.
That came after a few close calls for Perryville. Dayton Strattman had a shot at a goal and Fulton felt like his team was on the verge of scoring themselves.
“That second goal, actually both goals took our confidence and the wind out of our sails,” Fulton said. “To start the second half, I felt like we were onto something and that a goal was just around the corner.”
The first half was mostly played on Notre Dame's half of the field as the Bulldogs kept the pressure on the Perryville defense and Baudendistel, who stymied three Bulldog chances in the 16th minute. He ended the game with eight saves.
Notre Dame came back and put a shot over the goal and another off the post. In all, Perryville was outshot 5-1 in the first half.
Notre Dame moved on to the Class 2 Sectional, where they play Lutheran North (10-11)