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No. 12 Pearl River clinches playoff berth in rout of Meridian

MERIDIAN, Miss. — The No. 12 Pearl River men’s soccer team scored goals in abundance on Thursday, defeating Meridian 6-0. The win clinched a MACCC playoff spot for the Wildcats.

“The scoreline doesn’t show it, but that is a really good defensive team,” said coach Drew Gallant. “We saw that the first time we played them when we only scored one goal. They defend very well and are very organized. Things seemed to open up a little more for us as the match went on.”

Pearl River (9-2 overall; 5-2 MACCC South) pounced on Meridian (4-6-1; 3-4-1), quickly opening the scoring in the 5th minute. Ryley Smith (Manchester, England; Castlebrook) placed a shot into the left side of the net to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats added another goal in the 23rd minute courtesy of Tres Ray (Poplarville). The Wildcat forward pressed heavily on the Eagle defender and won the ball back. After a quick dribble into the box, he nailed a shot into the back of the net to extend the lead, 2-0.

PRCC added another goal to its total in the 44th minute as Diego Rangel (D’Iberville) unleashed a rocket past the keeper to make the score 3-0.

Smith picked up a brace in the 59th minute, slashing a penalty kick into the top left corner of the net.

“Probably the best game that we’ve seen out of Ryley so far,” said Gallant. “He had two goals and an assist tonight and could’ve had more if we hadn’t decided to rest him.”

Andre Nicholson (Kingston, Jamaica; Clarendon College) put another goal on the board in the 68th minute.

After Rangel laced a ball to the back post, a diving header from Miguel Hernandez (Gulfport) capped the scoring for the Wildcats in the 79th minute.

“The diving header at the end of the game. What a goal from Miguel,” said Gallant. “He’s not usually one for headers and he came flying in for the diving goal.”

UP NEXT 

The Wildcats will return to action on Tuesday as they host Copiah-Lincoln for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Between the men’s and women’s contests, Pearl River will hold a sophomore day celebration.