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Tight game ends with Picayune victory over PRC

The boys soccer teams from Picayune and Pearl River Central met Tuesday night to not only play for bragging rights within the county, but for a playoff spot since they are in the same district.

It was a must-win game this early in the season due to Long Beach leading the district with an undefeated record of 3-0 in district play.

The fast paced game was played on a cold and blustery night and showed both teams are evenly matched, but the Maroon Tide struck first.

Just six minutes into the game senior Muhanid Naji guided the ball into the back of the net to give Picayune a 1-0 lead.

PRC had several chances to add a goal to the board, but Picayune’s goalkeeper Will Walerius made some key one-on-one stops to preserve Picayune’s lead.

In fact, both goalies had monstrous performances with Brody Marshall coming up big for the Blue Devils multiple times.

PRC’s Head Coach Joe Weems said his team’s shape wasn’t what it needed to be.

Players were in pursuit of the ball and got pulled out of position, which Weems said hurt the team.

“We tried to play too fast, were over aggressive and over pursued. I don’t have a problem with the effort, the smart decisions just weren’t there,” Weems said.

For the Maroon Tide and Head Coach Britton Fortenberry, the match up against PRC was one Fortenberry thought his team needed to win.

The season has been up and down for the Maroon Tide, so Fortenberry said he was hoping to see his team at its best against the Blue Devils.

“I think it’s huge for us man, that was a must win for us. We wanted to come out and play our best soccer to this point. I wanted my boys to come out and compete hard,” Fortenberry said.

Neither team gave an inch in a game that ended with Picayune winning 1-0 on Naji’s early goal.

Now the squads will be heading into the second half of the season and Weems said the focus is going to be improving on the mental side of the game.

“For them it’s just about more focus and about mentally how they come into the game. We’ll just focus on the positive because that’s all we can do at this point,” Weems said.

The back half of the season will determine who gets into the playoffs as both squads are chasing Long Beach at the top of the district.

PRC will have an important district match up right after the holidays against Hattiesburg on Jan. 10 with the game set to start at 7 p.m.

Picayune on the other hand will have one more game before the end of the year against West Harrison on Dec. 20 with the game set to start at 7 p.m.