POPLARVILLE — For the Pearl River men's soccer team, the journey to repeat as state champions adds another chapter this Saturday when they take on the Southwest Bears in the second round of the MACJC playoffs at Jones College.
Pearl River (11-3; 6-2) received a first round bye in the playoffs by finishing first in the South Division while Southwest (12-2-1; 5-2-1) is coming off a 3-0 road victory over the Hinds Eagles.
The matchup between the Wildcats and Bears has become one of the most anticipated rivalries in the state.
The Wildcats dropped a home contest to Southwest on Sept. 19, losing 1-0 on a penalty kick in overtime.
The next contest between the two squads was another hard fought 1-0 loss to the Bears in Summit on Oct. 6 — the match was called early due to weather.
Pearl River coach Drew Gallant knows the stakes are high and the intensity will likely be higher this Saturday in Ellisville.
"They are a team that has become a big rival for us," Gallant said.
One strength for the Wildcats will be standout goalkeeper Kobe Lie (Hattiesburg; North Forrest).
Lie has been excellent this season earning multiple MACJC and NJCAA Goalkeeper of the Week honors.
"An advantage for us will be Kobe," Gallant said. "He has done so well this season."
The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. with the winner advancing to the finals, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday.