POPLARVILLE, Miss.— Pearl River scored early Tuesday night against visiting East Central but didn't score again until the final minute of the first half. The Wildcats ramped their attack up a notch in the second half, eventually routing ECCC 6-0 at the PRCC Sports Complex.
"I thought we were playing too individually in the first half and that's what we talked about at halftime," Pearl River coach Drew Gallant said. "We got to working together as a team and doing everything we do well as a team to create those opportunities."
PRCC (5-0-1 overall) struck first in the 12thminute when Miguel Hernandez (Gulfport) redirected an ECCC (3-5) clearance attempt into the visitor's net.
Pearl River was on the hunt for a second goal for the remainder of the half. It wasn't until the final minute that the Wildcats broke through for a 2-0 advantage. With time running out, Caleb Burke (Ocean Springs) threaded a seam pass to Kealan Baggett (Ocean Springs) down the middle. Showing his scoring touch, Baggett banked his shot off the right post and into the net.
"That was a really good goal from a team perspective," Gallant said. "Andrew (Holland) comes off the bench and plays a ball into Caleb's feet and he links up with Kealan. It's just easy for them. When we do the things we're supposed to it all works."
THE ROUT IS ON
The Wildcats were opportunistic in the 67thminute, going ahead 3-0 when Cooper Grafe (Kiln; Hancock) sped down the left sideline and centered a ball across the goal. It looked like the Warriors might clear the ball, but August Harp (Jackson; Murrah) picked the defender's pocket and placed the ball in the net. The goal was Harp's first at the collegiate level.
PRCC quickly extended its lead to 4-0 five minutes later courtesy of a blast from Hernandez — his sixth goal in two games.
"I attribute my streak to a number of things; one being God and second being my family," he said. "It's about getting comfortable on a team. The first few games I was trying to work in with the team. I think the first goal against Jones opened the flood gate because I want to keep scoring now.
"I love scoring and when I score one I have to get another."
Burke pushed PRCC's lead to 5-0 in the 77thminute, booming a point-blank shot past ECCC's keeper.
The Wildcats capped their scoring in the 84thminute when Shande James (Trench Town, Jamaica; Clarendon College) hammered home a pass off of a free kick from Max Matsenbaugh (Pass Christian; St. Stanislaus).
"It's nice to see a number of guys get in on the scoring," Gallant said. "With our style of play, if one thing's not there we always have other options."
Newly crowned MACJC Goalkeeper of the Week John Bowman (Bay St. Louis; Bay High) wasn't tested often but came up big when called upon, recording four saves to keep his shutout streak intact over five straight matches — he was on the bench during Southwest's two goals last week. His biggest save came in the second half, when he had to charge out and stack his legs to make a big point-blank stop on a charging Warrior.
After Tuesday's clean sheet, Bowman's fourth of the season, the freshman has now been perfect for 473 consecutive minutes.
The Wildcats are once again drawing national attention after receiving votes in the most recent NJCAA Top 20.
The Wildcats return to the pitch Tuesday with a road trip across the state to Itawamba. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events will be broadcast on PRCCAthletics.com and PRCCMedia.com. Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store.