PRC soccer sweeps North Pike, earn trip to state playoffs

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2018

CARRIERE — After 100 minutes of action, the Lady Devils defeated North Pike 2-1 in a thrilling overtime victory and booked a spot in the Class 5A soccer playoffs.

Even though the Lady Jaguars gained the lead early in the first half and seemed on their way to a district victory, Head Coach Joe Weems said the Lady Devils maintained the game plan, which in the end, paid off. In the second half, PRC had several opportunities to tie the game but either the Lady Jaguars defensive players or the goalkeeper kept the ball from the net. With 10 minutes left in the game, Samantha Langlois scored the tying goal for the Lady Devils off a corner kick by Alahna Lee. Afterwards, neither team was able to score again, sending the game into overtime.

Seconds into the first half of overtime, PRC’s Mercedes Babin dribbled past five defenders and finished the play by taking a left footed shot at the right post of the goal. As Babin took the shot, the Lady Jaguars goalkeeper dove to stop the play but the ball went into the back of the goal. With that score, Babin gave the Lady Devils a temporary 2-1 lead.

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North Pike attempted to tie the game but goalkeeper Kylie Guerra and her defense kept the ball away from the PRC end of the field. Halfway through the second half of overtime, the Lady Jaguars managed to get the ball past the Lady Devils defense and tie the game but an off sides call negated the score.

Toward the end of the game, PRC controlled the ball and by the time the final whistle blew, the team had earned its fourth district victory of the season, which gives the team the number two seed of Region 7-5A.

According to the Mississippi High School Activities Association website, the Lady Devils will play its first-round matchup on Feb. 5, with an opponent that is yet to be determined.

“From the beginning, they weren’t getting blown out, they were in all the games, always competing. We changed the culture, the way we play and the way we stood on the field. Everything had to be changed. They bought into it and they focused and it’s neat to see how it all played out,” Weems said. “I’m so happy, win or lose next game this season has been an incredible turnaround. They all learned something about themselves and what teamwork can do because they overachieved and nobody thought they would be here and they deserved it.”

—Blue Devils 3, Jaguars 0: A Blue Devils win over the Jaguars, combined with a Hattiesburg victory over Picayune Friday night, have given the PRC boys soccer team a spot in the Class 5A soccer playoffs.

The Blue Devils dominated possession of the ball early on and it was at the 12th minute of the game when Kyle Van Marcke had the first scoring opportunity for PRC. But the Jaguars goalkeeper got a finger on the shot, which caused the ball to change direction away from the goal.

After a series of saved shots by North Pike, Will Rogers was able to break the deadlock by scoring the first goal of the game for the Blue Devils at the 34th minute of the first half.

Three minutes later, Blaze Giovengo scored the second goal of the night after two North Pike defenders deflected a free kick by Rogers and Giovengo head-shot the ball in the net.

Rogers had one more chance to increase the Blue Devils lead but a missed penalty kept the score 2-0 in favor of PRC heading into halftime. Ten minutes into the second half, Oliver Cardenas scored the third and final goal of the game for the Blue Devils. Goalkeeper Cole Benoit finished with the shutout. According to the MHSAA website, PRC will play in the first round of the Class 5A soccer playoffs on Feb. 6, against an as yet undetermined opponent.

“We had to depend on Picayune and that’s not something we wanted to do, but Hattiesburg won and we didn’t know about it until a couple of minutes ago. Win or lose, these boys were going to play hard and try to win the game,” Weems said. “We did better tonight but we still have to improve, we have work to do before the playoffs. Our focus is to work on our finish and to be more consistent. I’m proud of them, they worked hard and they have all been together for four and five years now. We’re very excited about the opportunity to play in the playoffs and we think we can compete with anyone.  At the beginning of the season, we expected to be here and we made it, so I’m happy.”