Lady Wildcats take state

Published 5:29 am Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Item Sports Editor

RAYMOND — In his first year at the helm of the Pearl River Community College Lady Wildcats, Picayune’s Jack Byrd has his team on the verge of school history.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Lady Wildcats remained unbeaten on the season and captured the state championship Sunday, beating arch-rival Gulf Coast 1-0 here at Hinds CC in the state tournament finals.

The win moves PRCC to 18-0-1 on the season, but more importantly the Lady ‘Cats get to host Meridian CC for the Region 23 championship Saturday at 3 p.m.

The winner of Saturday’s match-up moves on to the national tournament, a feat never before achieved by the Lady Wildcats.

“It’s a very exciting time; the girls are having a lot of fun,” Byrd, who coaches both the men’s and women’s teams at PRCC said. “It’s only the second state championship ever, so it’s pretty special. But we realize we still have a lot left to play for.”

Hillary Gifford scored the only goal of the game Sunday, off an assist from Picayune’s Anajelsia Lee with a little over five minutes to play in the first half.

On Saturday, in the state semifinals, South Division champ PRCC trimmed North No. 2 seed Itawamba 1-0 to open the tournament action, while South No. 2 Gulf Coast (9-3) defeated host North champion Hinds 3-1 to grab the second berth in the title bout.

“We definitely didn’t play our ‘A’ game, but our girls just found a way to win,” said Byrd. “It’s been that way all year long. We just refuse to lose.”

PRCC and ICC battled to a scoreless 0-0 stalemate at the intermission, but sophomore midfielder Breeana Fortenberry of Picayune High scored the winning goal with 4:48 left off an assist by freshman Anajelsia Lee, also of Picayune High.

Pearl River and Itawamba opened their seasons Aug. 28 in Poplarville and battled to a 3-3 stalemate. That’s the only blemish on PRCC’s record so far.

Sunday’s win was the third of the year over Perk.

Before this season, the Lady Wildcats hadn’t beat the Lady Bulldogs in three seasons.

The only other state title for the PRCC women came in 2005, when Byrd was an assistant coach. Justin Ford is his assistant coach this year.