Lady Wildcats fall

Published 6:05 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Special to the Item

POPLARVILLE — Pearl River Community College’s Lady Wildcats’ first defeat of the 2009 soccer season resulted in their unprecedented year come to an abrupt end here Saturday in the Region 23 championship game.

Only six days after winning the MACJC state title at Hinds CC in Raymond, the PRCC women fell to Meridian CC’s Lady Eagles 3-1 to end its season at 18-1-1.

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“We played our hearts out,” said first-year PRCC head coach Jack Byrd. “This is a sad way to end a season, but these players have nothing to be ashamed of. We were beaten by a very good team.

“When you can go on an 18-game winning streak and win a state championship, that says enough.”

Pearl River entered the game without the services of it premier defender — Abby Johnson of Bay High — who was red-carded in the final seconds of last Sunday’s 1-0 state championship victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast and had to sit on the sidelines.

“I’m not saying Abby’s playing would’ve absolutely been the difference in our winning or losing, but she’s the heart of our defense and gives you 100 percent all 90 minutes,” Byrd said of the sophomore transfer from William Carey University. “She’s one of the biggest reasons we got to where we are and I hated it for her as much as the team.

“Her absense from the lineup was huge in Meridian’s favor.”

The Lady Eagles went up 1-0 at the 34:06 mark of the first half when Anastasoa Vogel scored her first of two goals in the game, then followed with her second with 2:36 left before the intermission.

Kelsey Edwards’ goal at the 1:35 mark pumped Meridian’s lead to 3-0 before PRCC’s Analejsia Lee of Picayune High scored the last goal of the game with 38 seconds left before the break.

“Our holding them scoreless in the second half said something about our resilience,” Byrd added. “But it’s been a fun ride this year. Give Meridian credit, they played a great game. We just came up short.”

Prior to Saturday’s regional loss, the Lady Wildcats’ 3-3 deadlock with Itawamba in their season opener in late August was the only blemish in their record.

MCC improved to 14-4-1 and will now host the Region 14 champion next Saturday.