FULTON, Miss. — Pearl River needed overtime heroics from one of its international stars to topple Itawamba 3-2 on Tuesday.
"They're a very good team. I told the boys on the entire drive up here they would be," Pearl River coach Drew Gallant said. "You would normally prefer to win by three, four or five and get the shutout, but we needed to face the adversity we saw today because we haven't seen that yet this season.
"Even when we went down 1-0, they got hit in the face and got right back up and got after them."
Pearl River (6-0-1 overall) surrendered a late goal in regulation that could have crippled some clubs. But after quickly regroup and battling through the first overtime frame, the Maroon and Gold netted a "golden goal" in the 117thminute.
Mike Jimenez (Ocean Springs) recovered a loose ball and sent it ahead to Caleb Burke (Ocean Springs). The William Carey transfer then sent Shande James (Trench Town, Jamaica; Clarendon College) in on goal. Dashing through the right side of the box, James — who had been moved to right wing only minutes earlier for the first time this season — proceeded to calmly place the ball behind the sprawled ICC keeper for the winner.
The goal spotlighted James' ability in one brief moment — his speed, his awareness, his touch and his finishing.
"He has been a difference maker every game," Gallant said. "It was nice to see some composure in a one-v-one with the keeper. That showcased his next-level ability."
Itawamba (6-2) opened the scoring in the 19thminute, blasting a shot into the top right corner past goalkeeper John Bowman (Bay St. Louis; Bay). The Indians' lead didn't last long as the newly crowned MACJC Player of the Week Miguel Hernandez (Gulfport) scored one minute later to tie the game back up. Hernandez scooped the ball up on the right side of the goal, dribbled across the goal mouth and deposited it past the keeper for his team-high fifth goal in the last three games.
Pearl River took a 2-1 lead 12 minutes later. PRCC booted the ball down the length of the field. James swooped onto the ball and drove to the goal. Luring an ICC defender toward him, James fed a pass across the goal for Jonovan Cucurullo (Bay St. Louis; Bay) for a backdoor dap-in.
Cucurullo's goal stood until the match's final 30 seconds when ICC tied the contest. The Indians won a late corner kick and weathered the ensuing madness in front of the box to tie the game.
"Most teams, that would have deflated them and we came out and had the better run of form in the first overtime I thought," Gallant said.
After a scoreless first overtime frame, the Wildcats broke through early in the second overtime.
Bowman made eight saves to earn his sixth win on the season.
"He came up big on some one-on-ones for us that gave us a chance," Gallant said.
The Wildcats return to action Oct. 1 with another road match at Meridian beginning at 5 p.m. PRCC's next home match is Oct. 4 against rival Gulf Coast. The men will kickoff at 7 p.m.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events are 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.