No. 13 Pearl River takes down No. 4 Jones College
No. 13 Pearl River opened up MACCC South Division play on Friday with a big-time matchup against rival No. 4 Jones College, stunning the Bobcats in the process with a 1-0 victory.
“It was typical Pearl River and Jones,” head coach Drew Gallant said. “I thought the boys played well. We made a few changes at halftime, and they picked up on them. We did a few tactical things. The guys took those coaching points and put it into the game.”
Pearl River (2-0-1 overall; 1-0 MACCC South) was on the attack early and often in the contest, forcing its way up the field with ease.
The Wildcats’ first scoring opportunity of the night came in the 3rd minute of the game on a Pearl River corner kick that was played into the box to Harper Baggett (Ocean Springs). The Wildcat forward tried to head it home, but the shot attempt went just wide of the goal.
The Wildcats continued to put pressure on Jones College (3-1; 0-1) with another near miss in the 10th minute. Mohamed Diallo (Gulfport) crossed a ball into the box to Dustin Cuevas (Kiln; Hancock), who was up in the formation from the left back position, but Cuevas’ shot attempt was unsuccessful.
The Wildcats looked like they had broken the scoreless match in the 15th minute as Ryley Smith (Manchester, England; Castlebrook) found the back of the net, but the officials ruled that he was offside, keeping the game tied 0-0.
In the 26th minute, the Bobcats nearly got on the board after a shot was laced at Maddux Francis (Poplarville). The Wildcat goalkeeper blocked the shot high into the air and then saved the second bobcat shot attempt to keep it scoreless.
The top-15 matchup went into the half tied up at 0-0.
Coming out of the break, Pearl River was again pushing past the Bobcat defense with ease, as the Wildcats clanked a shot off the right post in the 52nd minute
Francis had two big saves in the 52nd and 56th minute diving to his right each time, helping the score remain tied at 0-0.
The Wildcats claimed their goal in the 59th minute. Alex Emery (Gulfport; West Harrison) was moved to the top of the formation for his height advantage and it paid off for Pearl River. Emery dashed up the left side of the field before crossing the ball to Jason Irias (D’Iberville) who headed it home for his first collegiate goal, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
“I put Alex up top for his size,” Gallant said. “That’s not normally his position. He put a left-footed ball into the box and Jason was there to finally get his first goal. Alex was up top for two minutes and we scored, and he moved back to defense.”
Irias was excited to get the first goal of his career.
“I think it’s a big deal and our season is looking good so far,” Irias said. “Getting that goal tonight lets me know that if I can score against the No. 4 team, I can score against anyone.”
The Bobcats had a chance to even the match in the 86th minute, but Francis again made a save to keep PRCC in front.
The Wildcats were able to drain the clock, claiming the match 1-0.
The Wildcats hit the road on Tuesday to take on Southwest at 4 p.m. before returning home on Friday to host Meridian at 7 p.m.
CAYCE SEAL GAME
Pearl River’s contest against Meridian will be dedicated to the life of Cayce Seal. The Wildcats will hold a ceremony to retire Seal’s number and all proceeds from the contest will go to the scholarship fund that was set up in his memory.
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