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Pearl River pulls off stunning victory against No. 6 Jones

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The first “Cat Fight” on the pitch of 2021 lived up to the billing Monday at the PRCC Soccer Complex. The visiting Jones College women’s soccer team entered Poplarville newly ranked No. 6 in the country and had conceded a lone shot against in their previous two matches. The Wildcats, undeterred by the ranking, traded chances with the visitors for much of regulation but overtime was needed to decide the outcome.

Six minutes into the first overtime frame center back Erin Clifford (Ocean Springs) sized up a free kick from about 40 yards out. The freshman had just missed the sweet spot on her two previous free kicks from distance. On this one, Clifford picked the near corner, getting just enough loft on the sweet kick to clear the JC keeper and ripple the netting.

The golden goal to claim the South Division opener caused the PRCC dugout to spill onto the field in jubilation.

“Obviously really proud of the girls and the effort that they put into the game against a high quality team like Jones,” head coach Henrik Madsen said. 

“We had to be disciplined and sit in there and defend and the girls did a great job of doing that and we took our chance when we had it.”

The win was PRCC’s second over a ranked opponent in as many games as the Wildcats knocked off then No. 18 ranked Itawamba last Friday. 

Clifford’s first collegiate goal was a memorable one. In her words, she knew on contact she had delivered for her teammates.

“I had had a free kick earlier in the game and It went over the box,” Clifford said. “I was stressed but I knew when I kicked it it was going in. As soon as I hit it I knew. I was just trying to find that corner and all my teammates had great discipline getting into the box. I couldn’t have done it without them. 

TAKING IT TO THE LIMIT

The first half of play was an offensive struggle as neither team seemed to be able to apply much pressure throughout the first 45. 

The second half play saw both teams manage to push through the opposing defensive lines. 

A crucial piece to the Wildcats (2-1-1) win was the wonderful second half play from goalkeeper Kylie Dailey (Lucedale; George County) 

Dailey’s first stellar save came with about 40 minutes left when Jones (2-1) broke through the Wildcat line and had a straight on shot to the goal but Dailey was able to jump up and make solid contact with the both hands on the ball to prevent the goal.
The Wildcats were able to go punch for punch with the Bobcats in the second half breaking through Jones’ defense twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half but were not able to cash in after great recoveries from Jones. 

The Wildcats threatened several times in the last 10 minutes of the second half. 

With 9 minutes left Jade Shaw (Carriere; Pearl River Central) booted the ball about 10 feet out from the goal when Jones goalkeeper was tangled up. Sydney Sparato (Long Beach) attempted to cash in for the Wildcats but shot it just a little too high.

 

The Wildcats had another chance to win it in regulation with 6 minutes left Aubrie Edwards (Biloxi) crossed up the ball from from the right side but it just barely missed.  

With neither team being able to score in regulation the Catfight went into the 10 minute overtime period. 

Both teams continued to go back and forth in the first six minutes of the period before Clifford was set up for the highlight free kick. 

After the ball sailed into the net Clifford was ambushed by her teammates both on the field and from the sidelines. 

“It was amazing to be able to celebrate with my teammates like that,” Clifford said. “I love those girls. They’re like my sisters so it felt good to be able to help them out.” 

UP NEXT 

The Wildcats will look to try to continue their win streak when they head to Summit Friday to take on Southwest. The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.