RIDGELAND – Pearl River Community College will play for another MACJC state championship Sunday after a brilliant second half netted the Wildcats a 3-0 victory over East Central Saturday in the State Tournament semifinals at Freedom Ridge Park.
Freshman Joe Elliot (Leicester, England) broke a scoreless deadlock midway through the second half, and redshirt sophomore Parker Rose (Bay St. Louis) added a second goal less than four minutes later to put PRCC in a commanding position.
Pearl River (10-6-0) will face Mississippi Gulf Coast at 1 p.m. Sunday in the state finals. Gulf Coast knocked out Itawamba 0-0 in the other men’s semifinal. East Central finished 9-6-1. The Wildcats avenged a 1-0 defeat to the Warriors earlier this season.
“I thought it was one of our best halves all season,” said PRCC coach Drew Gallant. “We didn’t play badly in the first half, just not up to the level we expect.
“The second half, we started swinging the ball around better and communicating better, and it paid off on the scoreboard.”
Sophomore Junior Sanchez (Hattiesburg) had PRCC’s best chance in the first half, getting a free kick and shooting from point-blank range in the 34th minute.
But in the second half, the Wildcats were able to keep possession and in the 65th minute, West Zimmerman fired a cross-field pass to Elliot, who was wide-open in front of the net from 25 yards out, making it 1-0 at 64:29.
“West picked it up on the right side, and sent a nice ball,” said Elliot. “I was able to hold my ground, and volleyed it on my left foot.
“This was a pretty sweet win. We talked before the game about how we didn’t care if it was a semifinal game or not; we just wanted to beat a team that we shouldn’t have lost to before.”
Rose made it 2-0 at 67:52, when he took a pass from freshman Bo Bowman (Bay St. Louis) in the left side of the 6-yard box and put the shot in the upper right corner of the net.
Sophomore Bradford Clark (Long Beach) put an insurance goal , assisted by sophomore Spencer Martin (Spring, Tex.)in for the final margin at 88:00. The Wildcats held the Warriors to just six shots in the second half, and only one on goal.
Sunday’s championship game will be the third meeting of the season between PRCC and Gulf Coast. The Bulldogs won both previous meetings. 4-0 at Perkinston and 1-0 at Poplarville. The game will webtreamed live on prccmedia.com and on youtube.com/pearlrivercollege.
PRCC SOCCER SUMMARY
MACJC State Tournament semifinals
Saturday at Ridgeland
Pearl River 3, East Central 0
PEARL RIVER (10-6-0): 1. Joe Elliot (West Zimmerman), 64:29; 2. Parker Rose (Bob Bowman), 67:52; 3. Bradford Clark (Spencer Martin), 88:00. GK – Kobe Lie 5 saves. YC – Joe Elliot, 25:40; Spencer Martin, 64:52. RC – None.
EAST CENTRAL (9-6-1): GK – Dylan Shoemaker 6 saves. YC – Chris Perez, 28:23. RC – None.