POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River men's soccer coach Drew Gallant announced Thursday the addition of 6-foot-3, 180-pound Piper MacNeil to his squad.
The Sheffield, England, centerback is the latest Wildcat signee in the 2019 class, joining nine other newcomers including internationals Shande James (Chapelton, Jamaica; Clarendon College) and Taja Brown (Chapelton, Jamaica; Clarendon College); William Carey transfer Caleb Burke (Ocean Springs), and prep signees Miguel Hernandez (Gulfport), Mohamed Diallo (Gulfport), John Bowman (Bay St. Louis; Bay), Max Matsenbaugh (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus), Carson Favre (Long Beach) and hometown standout Tres Ray (Poplarville).
The former Sheffield Wednesday Youth Academy player has big shoes to fill with established all-league centerbacks Andrew Elkins (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus) and Joe Elliott (Leicester, England) signing with Auburn-Montgomery and Delta State respectively, but Gallant is confident his new international defender will make a seamless transition to the Wildcats' back line.
"Piper will be a physical presence in the middle of our back line. He's good in the air, his distribution is very good," Gallant said. "He's built for our style of play in a possession oriented offense that will find him under pressure from opponents. He has the ability to stay calm on the ball, make the correct decision and play out of pressure."
Gallant credited assistant coach Tom Keen for both unearthing MacNeil and securing the international's signature.
"We really rely on Tom when it comes to filling our international spots," he said. "He knows our needs and has a keen eye for talent."