No. 12 Pearl River makes a splash against Southwest

Published 9:00 am Thursday, May 6, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 12 Pearl River men’s soccer team made a splash Tuesday — literally.

Dodging raindrops for most of the evening, the Wildcats beat visiting Southwest 3-0 at the PRCC Soccer Complex. The match was called in the 71st minute due to weather.

“The field conditions weren’t ideal but we’re learning to handle that better than we have in the past,” Pearl River coach Drew Gallant said. “This is the second time we’ve had to play Southwest on a field like that and I think we adapted well.

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“We got valuable minutes from a lot of guys who haven’t played a ton. Bradley Stines (Poplarville) had a great game tonight as did Retsin Kabambala (Mobile, Ala.; Murphy).”

The game was only about seven minutes old before it had to be halted due to weather.

After a lengthy rain delay it didn’t take Pearl River (9-2 overall; 5-2 MACCC South) long at all to break the scoreless tie. 

Ryley Smith (Manchester, England; Castlebrook) sent a free kick toward the back post. After rattling around in the crowd, the ball was poked between the SMCC keeper’s legs. Dustin Cuevas (Kiln; Hancock) crashed the net at the right time and potted the goal.

“That’s a typical Dustin play,” Gallant said. “Work hard and goals will happen.”

Mohamed Diallo (Gulfport) doubled PRCC’s lead in the 24th minute, sending a shot from just outside the box that arced over the keeper and landed inside the far side’s netting for a 2-0 lead.

“What an amazing goal,” Gallant said. “That was a ball passed over by Ryley on a set piece and then what a finish.”

The Wildcats looked to extend their lead to 3-0 in the 34th minute when Diallo sent a low cross into the near post. Andre Nicholson (Kingston, Jamaica; Clarendon College) crashed the near corner and placed a perfect redirection past the keeper. The beautiful sequence, however, was called back due to an offsides call.

Nicholson got his goal back in the 55th minute.

The Jamaican caught the ball squarely on a bounce from the top of the box and unleashed an absolute rocket past the helpless SMCC (2-9; 1-6) keeper.

“What an unbelievable strike,” Gallant said. “To hit that so well with a side volley was incredible. He sliced it and the keeper just couldn’t handle it.”

PRCC hits the road Thursday for a 5 p.m. kickoff at Meridian.