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No. 12 Pearl River advances in penalty kicks

FULTON, Miss. — It went down to the wire Tuesday but No. 12 Pearl River is moving on to this weekend’s MACCC/Region 23 Tournament after edging Itawamba 4-3 in penalty kicks.

“It feels amazing. It’s definitely great to extend the season for the guys,” Pearl River coach Drew Gallant said. “They’ve been through so much. I know a lot of programs are struggling but it’s great for our guys to be rewarded.”

The Wildcats advance to play MACCC/Region 23 Tournament host Gulf Coast in the semifinal round. The match is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday.

ICC (7-6 overall) shocked Pearl River in the first three minutes of the match, jumping ahead on a goal. The Wildcats (11-3) immediately responded when Dustin Cuevas (Kiln; Hancock) scored the equalizer.

“Mo (Diallo) put the ball into box and Dustin did what I tell them to do all the time — just run into the ball when you’re in the box,” Gallant said. “That’s what Dustin did. He outworked the kid who was tracking him. It was a great ball by Mo and he just ran into it. The keeper just doesn’t have time to react on those plays.”

The two sides battled through the remaining 80 minutes of regulation and 20 more minutes in overtime before the match came down to five shooters apiece.

“We gave up a goal early, stayed flat first half and then in the second half we decided we wanted the game and took it to Itawamba,” Gallant said.” 

PENALTY KICKS
PRCC keeper John Bowman (Bay St. Louis; Bay) dove to his right, turning away ICC’s first attempt.

Andre Nicholson (Kingston, Jamaica; Clarendon College) picked the bottom left corner to put the Wildcats ahead in the PK. After an ICC goal, Ryley Smith (Manchester, England; Castlebrook) send his shot right down the middle. ICC scored once more, but Jamie Chamberlain (London, England; Dover Athletic Academy) netted a goal of his own by picking the bottom left corner for the 3-2 lead. The Indians made another goal, but Retsin Kabambala (Mobile, Ala.; Murphy) sent his attempt off the diving keeper and in for the 4-3 lead.

The PK sequence came down to the next kick and Bowman was up to the challenge, diving to his left to smother the shot.

“John’s first save was amazing,” Gallant said. “It was hit well but he fully extended. John had to be perfect in those moments and he was.”