Wildcats rally to beat Gulf Coast 2-1; Lady Wildcats win big 4-0

Wildcats rally to beat Gulf Coast 2-1; Lady Wildcats win big 4-0

POPLARVILLE – Romar Smith was in the right place at the right time for the Pearl River men Friday night in MACJC soccer action at the PRCC.
 
Smith’s header off a corner kick by Cole Wooten with 6:11 to play in the game gave the Wildcats a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Gulf Coast in a rematch of last season’s thrilling MACJC State Tournament championship game.
 
PRCC, the defending state champions, remained undefeated at 3-0; Gulf Coast dropped to 2-2. It was the South Division opener for both teams.
 
“These guys have doing this all preseason,” said Wildcat head coach Paul Martin. “I’m not surprised that we responded.
 
“We made some changes at halftime that we thought would turn the game around. We have a lot of young kids, a lot of freshmen, and we challenged them. And they really stepped up.”
 
All of the scoring came in the last 21 minutes of play, as the defenses dictate play for much of the game.
 
Gulf Coast broke the scoreless deadlock with 20:35 to play on a one-timer by James Beattie from 25 yards out, after a brilliant breakaway run through the center of the Wildcat defense.
 
But PRCC got the tying goal with 14:32 to play when Mack Ladner buried a point-blank shot after getting a pass from Trevor Krol.
 
Despite having to come from behind, the Wildcats dominated the stat sheet, getting 22 shots in all to just nine for the Bulldogs. Sophomore Grant Adam had six saves in goal for Pearl River.
 
The men’s game was in sharp contrast to the women’s game, a dominant 4-0 win for PRCC (3-0, 1-0).
 
Sophomore Delaney Gustafson had a pair of goals, including the first goal of the game at the 29:02 mark of the first half, on a crossing pass from Jordan Ahlgren.
 
But Gulf Coast (0-3, 0-1) kept it close through the first half, and Pearl River only had the 1-0 lead at halftime.
 
“We were getting in too much of a hurry,” said Lady Wildcats’ coach Jack Byrd. “We were trying to force the ball. What we needed to do was draw them out by keeping the ball on the back line, and work the ball from side to side.
 
“I thought we worked the ball much better in the second half, and we made them work a lot more from side to side.”
 
The Lady Wildcats broke the game open with 35:22 to play in the game when Lyndsey Lee rocketed in a shot from 20 yards out from a throw-in by Kelsey Taylor.
 
Less than three minutes later, PRCC added to its lead when Sarah Fortenberry scored on a 25-yard bomb on pass from Lee. Gustafson’s second goal of the game, from a free kick by Sarah Daniels, capped the scoring with 22:47 to play.
 
Both PRCC squads return to action Tuesday at home against Meridian. Kickoff for the women’s game is 5 p.m., with the men set to play at 7 p.m.