POPLARVILLE – The championship soccer programs at Pearl River Community College celebrated their 2016 signing class Thursday night with a Media Day event at Crosby Hall on the PRCC campus.
A group of 11 signees, out of 13 total, were in attendance to show their support for the Lady Wildcat program, while nine of 10 signees for the Wildcat men were there.
“Well, we’ll have some depth, where we didn’t last season,” said veteran Lady Wildcat coach Jack Byrd, whose teams are 114-16-6 in his nine seasons at the helm.
“We’ve been waiting on this class of kids for a long time. They’re talented kids, but they’re also good quality kids who excel in the classroom as well as on the field.”
PRCC has won two consecutive MACJC/Region 23 Tournament championships, and have won state three of the past four seasons.
The Wildcat men are working on a streak of four consecutive state titles, and that is a daunting challenge for new head coach Drew Gallant, who was announced as coach in December.
“It was a challenge,” said Gallant, a former Forrest County AHS and Southwest Mississippi CC head coach who starred at PRCC in 2003.
“We really had to hit the ground running. But that’s why I took this job. I want to keep the championship tradition going.”
Among the signees for the PRCC women are two-time Sun-Herald Player of the Year Karsen Gildea, a goalkeeper from Ocean Springs.
Topping the signees list for the men are forward West Zimmerman of three-time Class 4A state champion St. Stanislaus, who had nine goals and 14 assists for the Rockachaws this past season.
Both PRCC teams will also feature at least one international player in the fall. Gallant signed center back Ryan Botell of Manchester, England, and Byrd inked 6-foot forward Molly Hall of Ipswich, England.
The complete list of signees for the Lady Wildcats:
Mary Rieger of Ocean Springs; Mia Richardson of Resurrection; Olivia Moger of Long Beach; Lacey Polderman of Picayune; Melly Snyder of Greene County; Sarah Weldon of Resurrection; Abbi Henderson of Greene County; Rylee Foster of Ocean Springs; Karsen Gildea of Ocean Springs; Kayla Nobles of East Central; Caroline Grafe of Hancock; Anna Grace Cooley of George County and Molly Hall of Ipswich, England.
The complete list of signees for the Wildcats:
Taylor Anderson of Terry; Tristan Anderson of Terry; Ryan Botell of Manchester, England; Bradford Clark of Long Beach; Travis Harper of Ocean Springs; Kyle Hillyard of Ocean Springs; Mark Johnson of Bay High; Junior Sanchez of Oak Grove; Jackson Turner of Greene County and West Zimmerman of St. Stanislaus.
Signees for the Pearl River Community College women's soccer team include (front row from left) Abbi Henderson of Greene County, Mia Richardson of Resurrection, Rylee Foster of Ocean Springs, Sarah Weldon of Resurrection, Caroline Grafe of Hancock, Kayla Nobles of East Central, (back row from left) Lacey Polderman of Picayune, Melly Snyder of Greene County, Olivia Moger of Long Beach, Karsen Gildea of Ocean Springs and Mary Rieger of Ocean Springs. Not pictured are Anna Grace Cooley of George County and Molly Hall of Ipswich, England.
Signees for the Pearl River Community College men's soccer team include (from left) Mark Johnson of Bay High, Taylor Anderson of Terry, Tristan Anderson of Terry, Kyle Hillyard of Ocean Springs, Travis Harper of Ocean Springs, West Zimmerman of St. Stanislaus, Bradford Clark of Long Beach, Junior Sanchez of Oak Grove and Jackson Turner of Greene County. Not pictured is Ryan Botell of Manchester, England.