Pearl River soccer teams host NJCAA regional competition at Picayune

Pearl River soccer teams host NJCAA regional competition at Picayune

POPLARVILLE – The Pearl River Community College soccer teams will face their biggest challenge of the season on Saturday when they host regional action in the NJCAA National Tournament at Picayune High School.
The Lady Wildcats will face Eastern Florida State in the District H championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday, and the Wildcats will battle San Jacinto, Texas in the semifinals of the South Region Tournament at 7 p.m.
The District H final is a rematch of last season’s district final, won by the Lady Titans 4-0.
“We played them last year at their place,” said Pearl River coach Jack Byrd. “We’re the team that was supposed to do nothing this season. We only have 13 healthy players, so it’s going to be a challenge.”
The 18th-ranked Lady Wildcats (15-1) will lean heavily on their twin scoring threats of sophomores Lyndsey Lee and Sarah Fortenberry, who have combined to score 30 goals and have dished out 21 assists.
Eastern Florida State (13-0), the top-ranked team in NJCAA, is led by freshman Paula Astiazaran, who has 23 goals and 18 assists this season.
“We’re going to have to communicate well, because they’re going to play quick off the ball,” said Lee, who leads the MACJC with 17 goals. “We have to be able to let each other know where they’re at so their speed doesn’t overpower us.”
The winner advances to the NJCAA National Tournament, scheduled to begin Nov. 16 at Melbourne, Fla.
Pearl River’s men are 15-2 coming into the region tournament, and they expect to see a seasoned San Jacinto team in Saturday’s semis.
“It’s something we’ve planned for all year,” said Wildcat coach Carl Reynolds. “(San Jacinto) has a rich history of producing player to go onto the next level.
“At the end of the day, it’s about 90 minutes of soccer. We’re very confident in the way we set ourselves up, and we believe we can cause them some problems.”
The Coyotes (11-5-1) are led by sophomore Donald Benamna, who has 14 goals this season.
PRCC counters with sophomores Romar Smith and Chance Bourdene, who have 12 and 11 goals this season, respectively, and freshman Parker Rose has scored 10 goals for the Wildcats.
In the other South Region semifinals, Hinds (12-5) will take on defending NJCAA national champion Tyler, Texas, at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Apaches are 14-3 and ranked sixth in the nation.
The semifinal winners will square off at 6 p.m. Sunday for the regional championship and the right to play in the NJCAA National Tournament, beginning Nov. 16 at Martinsville, Va.