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Pearl River women’s soccer primed to compete in 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. —It’s been just a little over three months since the end of the unorthodox 2020-21 soccer season which saw the Pearl River women’s soccer program finish with a 6-4-4 record. Despite the quick turnaround the Wildcats are ready to get back to work in ahead of the 2021 fall season.

The Wildcats claimed the MACCC’s South Division title in head coach Henrik Madsen’s first year at the helm of the program. Madsen is optimistic the Wildcats can earn more hardware this season.

“The expectations are that we are going to be there competing with the big dogs in the state and in the country,” Madsen said. “Our team seems to be getting along really well and team chemistry seems to be really high.

“I think that we definitely have what it takes to have a lot of success this season.”

Even though the offseason allowed for little training time, Madsen feels that his team is fit and ready to hit the pitch again in 2021.

“I don’t think that the short offseason is going to affect us much,” he said. “We’re returning seven players from last year, so our roster is full of fresh legs. This offseason has felt like business as usual for us and we’re excited to get underway.”

PRCC struggled with a lack of depth last season, but Madsen said that shouldn’t be a problem again.

“I felt that last year was a learning experience just from the depth standpoint,” he said. “We went in with a smaller roster that we felt was a quality one, but after a few injuries all of the sudden we had 12 or 13 players. We’ve added a lot more players this year, so we should be able to get through the season with fresh legs.”

The Wildcats will base out of a 4-3-3 formation but added versatility will allow them to change formations when needed.

“We want to play the ball out of the back and be possession-based,” Madsen said. “We’re going to be able to have flexibility with formations because we have intelligent players that can do it.”

This year’s roster will be the first that is full of players recruited by Madsen.

ATTACK
The Wildcat attack is going to be much different in 2021 as the position group features just two returners with seven newcomers.

Returners in the attack include Aubrie Edwards (Biloxi) and Zaria Crumpton (Leakesville; Greene County).

Edwards was an integral part of the development of goals, assisting on seven and scoring twice. Crumpton played in seven games and bagged one goal and one assist.

“Aubrie has continued to get better and can keep growing as a player,” Madsen said. “Her ceiling is super high.

“Zaria has pushed to get more minutes. She’s worked really hard this summer.”

The group of newcomers in the attack includes South Alabama transferSydney Salter (Vancleave), Breanna Stansberry (Lucedale; George County), Abigail Phillips (Darlington, England; Longfield Academy), Aubrey Wawrek (Long Beach; Our Lady Academy), Ally Davis (Hattiesburg; Homeschool), Jessica Harrison (Gulfport; St. Patrick) and Blaire Alexander (Poplarville).

Salter, who also plays on the Pearl River volleyball team, brings Division I experience with her. In limited appearances at USA, she scored one goal. While at Vancleave High, Salter set the records for goals in a season (44), career goals (138), assists in a season (17) and career assists (57).

Stansberry tallied four goals and six assists as a senior. In Wawrek’s high school career, she scored 24 goals and assisted on three. Harrison finished up her high school career by scoring 33 goals in her senior year.

Phillips comes to Pearl River after playing at Longfield Academy in Darlington, England.

Alexander comes to PRCC after helping lead the PHS Hornets to a 14-6-1 record as a senior. Davis played club soccer for Southern States Soccer.

MIDFIELD
Veterans in the midfield are Sydney Spataro (Long Beach), Katie Havard (Hurley; East Central), Samantha Kennedy (Carriere; Pearl River Central) and Jenny Satcher (Hattiesburg; Homeschool).

Spataro was a key player for PRCC and chipped in a goal and two assists as a freshman.

Havard started every game in the midfield for the Wildcats and scored one goal. Kennedy played in eight games as a freshman.

“Katie had an outstanding freshman year and I think that she can continue to build on that,” Madsen said. “She can be even better this season.”

Satcher will begin the season recovering from an injury that forced her to miss all last season.

Newcomers Alexis Cochran (Hurley; East Central), Lucy Conway (Portsmouth, England), Lola Taylor (Ocean Springs) and Delaney Owen (Gulfport) will be valuable assets in the Wildcat midfield.

Cochran scored 11 goals and assisted on nine as a senior. Owen bagged eight goals while assisting on 11. Taylor helped lead the OSHS Greyhounds to a 14-1 record as a senior. Conway most recently played for Portsmouth FC Women in Portsmouth, England.

DEFENSE
Veterans Bailey Smith (Gulfport), Erin Clifford (Ocean Springs) and Lily Lentz (Gilbert, Ariz.; Dr. Camille Casteel) will be the leaders at the back of the formation.

Lentz spent most of her time as a midfielder last season and scored two goals and assisted on another.

“Lily has taken a massive step forward in her fitness level from last year,” Madsen said. “She really came in sharp and focused. She has been a surprise this offseason. She’s been spot on.

Clifford played in 13 games for the Wildcats and managed to score three goals as a defender. No goal was bigger last season than her overtime goal on a set-piece against Jones.

“Erin was really good and scored quite a few goals as a defender,” Madsen said. “She offers the flexibility of playing as a center back or an outside back.

Smith is a tenacious defender who makes it hard for attackers to have success.

“Bailey was a leader on the backline,” Madsen said. “I hope that she can continue to grow as a player and we can move her to the next level.”

FreshmanMackenzie McKinney (Gulfport) and Emma Godfrey (Pascagoula; Resurrection Catholic) will feature in the Wildcat defense frequently.

GOALKEEPER
SophomoreKylie Dailey (Lucedale; George County) and South Alabama transfer Aníta Guðmundsdóttir (Kópavogur, Iceland; Flensborg) will be reliable options between the posts for the Wildcats.

Dailey had a goals against average of 0.60 last season, making 38 saves. She claimed one MACCC Goalkeeper of the Week award. Guðmundsdóttir played in 11 games at USA and held a goals against average of 0.94. She capped at the U17 and U19 levels for Iceland’s national team. .

SCHEDULE
The Wildcats begin their season Wednesday at Hinds. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. Pearl River hosts its first match at the PRCC Soccer Complex on Friday when Holmes comes to town for a 5 p.m. contest.

TICKET
Single-game tickets will go on sale soon and can be purchased atPRCCAthletics.com/tickets.

HOW TO WATCH
The Wildcats will once again livestream all matches for free atPRCCMedia.com.Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app stores.