POPLARVILLE - The Pearl River men watched 110 scoreless minutes of soccer while their Lady Wildcat counterparts drew 0-0 against rival Gulf Coast. When it was their time to take the pitch, it took the Wildcats all of 46 seconds to break through en route to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Bulldogs at PRCC's soccer complex on Tuesday night.
The victory not only completed a two-game season sweep over archrival MGCCC, but it also clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.
"It's always nice to get a win against Gulf Coast," PRCC coach Drew Gallant said. "They definitely came out and gave us problems early. I think we had times where we looked like ourselves again and we had times where we did not.
"We still made mistakes where people can capitalize on us but overall I'm thankful for the win and it's great to clinch a playoff spot with games left to play."
Almost immediately after the opening kickoff, Jevaun Ennis (Maypen, Jamaica) broke down the left sideline and headed in on goal before being taken down in the box. Teammate Bo Bowman (Bay St. Louis; Bay) claimed the ensuing penalty kick and didn't miss, blasting a shot over the goalkeeper.
Ennis claimed a goal of his own in the 38th minute during an odd sequence where he lost and regained possession two or three times on the left side of the box before spinning and sending a shot past the sprawled Bulldog goalkeeper for the 2-0 advantage.
Joe Elliott (Leicester, England) added a third goal midway through the second half off of a corner kick. Mike Jimenez (Ocean Springs) sent the kick in from the right side. Manning the far post, Andrew Elkins (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus) passed the ball across the goal mouth to Elliott, who had crashed the near post. All the center back had to do was one-touch the ball into the back of the net for an insurmountable 3-0 advantage.
"It always feels good to score against Perk," Elliott said. "Always."
The victory wasn't all due to the attack. Pearl River's back line limited Gulf Coast (4-8, 1-4) to only a handful of opportunities – which was a big task considering Gallant said MGCCC striker C.J. Smith was the best player they faced all year. The Bulldogs' best chance came midway through the first half when goalkeeper Kobe Lie was forced to make a highlight reel save by sticking his hand out to turn away a point-blank shot.
"Kobe made an unbelievable save in the first half," Gallant said. "Other than that he was never really threatened."
Lie finished the game with six saves to earn his ninth win on the year and fifth shutout.
The Wildcats will be back on the pitch Saturday with a 3 p.m. road match at Southwest.
Oct. 2: Gulf Coast at Pearl River