TYLER, Texas – The talent gap between Texas and Mississippi junior college teams in men’s soccer proved to be insurmountable once again for Pearl River Community College.
The Wildcats could never get anything going offensively, while Laredo (Texas) did whatever it wanted with the ball, the result being a 5-0 defeat for PRCC in the semifinals of the NJCAA South Region Tournament at the Pat Hartley Complex on the Tyler Junior College campus.
Laredo (13-5-0) advanced to the championship game Saturday against host Tyler. Pearl River completed its season 10-7-1. Tyler advanced by winning the other semifinal over Mississippi Gulf Coast 5-2.
“We realized later in the game that, technically, we were as good as they were,” said PRCC coach Drew Gallant. “They were just so much quicker and faster than we were, and we knew that coming in. It happens every time we come to Texas.
“It’s always going to be an uphill battle, because of the different scholarship situations, but you play the cards you’re dealt, and we knew what we were getting into. We just had a poor performance on top of the disadvantages we faced coming in.”
The Wildcats managed to stay in the game through the first half, trailing just 1-0 at halftime. Laredo got the first goal at 25:09 on a shot by Avinadan Garcia.
But the Palominos owned a huge edge in shots, getting 14 in the first half, seven on goal, while the Wildcats had just one shot, a good opportunity on goal by freshman Joe Elliot (Leicester, England) early in the game.
Laredo wasted no time getting the second goal past Wildcat freshman goalkeeper Kobe Lie (Hattiesburg), scoring at 47:22 on a shot by Christian Pascarella off a corner kick.
Seven minutes later, as the Wildcats committed more players forward, Rodave Murray got loose on a breakaway and beat the defense for the third goal for the Palominos.
“We’re not going to just sit back and let teams hammer us,” said Gallant. “We’re trying to win a game. We committed people forward, and sometimes you give up stuff in the process.”
PRCC got better opportunities offensively in the second half, especially a good combination play from freshman Jevaun Ennis (Maypen, Jamaica) to redshirt sophomore Parker Rose (Bay St. Louis) midway through the half.
However, the Wildcats were unable to get a shot in the net, and conceded two late goals for the final margin.
Lie had eight saves to finish with 130 for the season. Laredo finished with 21 shots, 13 on goal, while PRCC had six shots and two on goal.
“It’s better; we’re better than last year,” said Gallant. “It’s nice that we’re getting back to where Pearl River is supposed to be, but it’s not enough. There’s more out there than just winning a Mississippi state title. The goal is to get to the national tournament, and we aren’t there yet.”
PRCC SOCCER SUMMARY
NJCAA South Region Tournament
Friday at Tyler, Texas
Laredo 5, Pearl River 0
LAREDO (12-5-0): 1. Avinadan Garcia (Hector Rodriguez), 25:09; 2. Christian Pascarella (unassisted), 47:22; 3. Rodave Murray (unassisted), 54:30; 4. Hector Rodriguez (unassisted), 76:57; 5. Mauricio Baraias (unassisted), 87:58. GK – Gonzalo Santa 2 saves. YC – None; RC – None.
PEARL RIVER (10-7-1): GK – Kobe Lie 8 saves. YC – None. RC – None.