Men’s soccer doesn’t get tourney bid

Published 1:57 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Special to the Item

PERKINSTON — The Mississippi Gulf Coast men’s soccer team learned its season was over Friday morning when the field for the NJCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship was announced.

The Bulldogs (11-3) didn’t receive an at-large bid into the 12-team field. The bid that was available to one team from either the Atlantic Region and the Bulldogs’ Gulf District went to Patrick Henry, which finished 6-2-1. The Patriots lost their final two games of the season.

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“There’s a lot to proud of,” Gulf Coast coach Chris Handy said. “I’m very proud of what these boys have accomplished. They deserve a lot of credit for persevering after the way we started, and now it won’t be too long before we’re going again. We’re not going anywhere. We’re right here.”

The Bulldogs lost their first two MACCC South contests before reeling off nine straight wins to earn the division title. That earned them the right to host the MACCC/Region 23 Tournament, where a tough-luck loss in the semifinals turned out to be the final game of the season.

The NJCAA broke a new Division II level this season, and the MACCC schools opted to move into it from Division I. Jones received the automatic bid last weekend. Gulf Coast was in the mix with Pearl River, another MACCC team, and Patrick Henry for Virginia for the at-large berth.

Handy is sending two players on to Division I teams. Defender/midfielder Deon Travis (So., Madison/Madison Central) is headed to Florida Gulf Coast, and midfielder/forward Christian Inchima (So., Brampton Ontario/St. Edmond Campion) is bound for East Tennessee State.

The Bulldogs look to be gearing up for another strong season in the fall. It’ll be a shorter-than-usual turnaround after COVID forced soccer into the spring semester.

“I thought we had a great year,” Handy said. “It was an exciting year with some of the wins we had. I thought our freshmen showed up and played well. There’s a lot to be excited about going forward. I really like our team for next year.”

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