Pearl River drops women''s, men''s MACJC title bouts to Miss. Gulf Coast by identical 1-0 scores in Ridgeland

RIDGELAND Pearl River Community College fell 1-0 in both the women and men MACJC State Tournament championship games to Mississippi Gulf Coast in M&F Bank Stadium on the grounds of Freedom Ridge Park here Sunday. The Lady Wildcats, the South Division No. 1 seed, got to the title bout via their 5-0 shutout over North No. 2 Holmes on Saturday; while the Wildcats, also the South top seed, defeated North No. 2 Itawamba 4-2 in Saturday nightcap game. PRCC women wrapped their season at 15-2 overall, while its men are now 11-5-1 but still eye a match up with Meridian in the Region 23 Tournament set at host MGCCC set for 6 p.m. Friday in Perkinston. Pearl River men got a regional berth as the NJCAA mandates that any team without a winning record Meridian men finished its regular season at 2-13 must play an extra regional game against the MACJC No. 2 finisher. MCC gets automatic regional berths due to its not being a MACJC member. The winner of Friday men contest will take on Gulf Coast (15-4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the Region 23 championship. The women regional title game will precede the men at 5:30 p.m. with the Meridian women, 7-6-2, facing state champ Gulf Coast, 15-4. In Sunday women championship game, the two teams battled to a scoreless stalemate at the half, but Gulf Coast Kelsi Weaver booted the deciding goal at the 29:39 mark of the second half off an assist by Briana Holmes. Pearl River entered the game without the services of two-year starter Ana Lee of Picayune Memorial High, who injured her Achilles tendon in Saturday win over Holmes. In the men championship game, again the squads played a scoreless first half, but the Bulldogs Harrison Russell banged in a penalty kick with 17:40 left for the game-winning goal. PRCC played the title game without the services of starter Cayce Seal out of St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, who suffered a concussion in Saturday win over Itawamba. In Saturday women action, Pearl River led 1-0 at the break with a goal by Lee off an assist by Havanah Gholar of Forrest County AHS; then bounced back with four unanswered scores in the second half. Emmaleigh Davis, a University of Memphis transfer who prepped at Resurrection Catholic High in Pascagoula, scored six minutes in off an assist by Jessica Kirkwood of George County High before Jordan Organ of Forrest County AHS made it 3-0 off an assist by Katie Whitworth of Poplarville High three minutes later. The Lady Wildcats booted their final goals over a one-minute span with Ashlee Arnau of Oak Grove High scoring unassisted and Davis scoring off an assist by Chelsea Smith of Tupleo High during the 67th minute. In Saturday men action, Pearl River went up 1-0 at the 4:00 mark of the first half with a goal by Tyler Hatch out of East Central High in Hurley off an assist by Pacer Frierson of Picayune Memorial High before Garrett Head of Oak Grove High booted in a second goal at the 24:05 mark to give PRCC a 2-0 lead at the intermission. Itawamba Houston Walker cut the Wildcats lead to 2-1 off a penalty kick three minutes into the second half, but Hatch answered with an unassisted goal 12 minutes later to put Pearl River back up by two. James Zanelli of Essex, U.K., scored The River final goal at the 26:14 mark; while ICC Abraheem Saleh scored the game final goal in the final minute. The Gulf Coast women, South No. 2, defeated North No. 1 Hinds 1-0 on Saturday, while its men, South No. 2, canned host Holmes, North No. 1, 4-1 to get to the championship round. The Lady Wildcats have won state championships in 2005 under then-coach Patrick Hayes and 2009 under current coach Jack Byrd, while the Wildcats copped its only MACJC title in 2003 under then-head coach Adam Breerwood.

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