No. 4 Pearl River routs Southwest to remain undefeated

Published 2:22 pm Sunday, October 17, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 4 Pearl River men’s soccer team was firing on all cylinders Friday running away with its match against Southwest, 7-0.

The Wildcats moved their unbeaten streak to 10 games to open the year.

“I was very proud of the team tonight, especially since we were able to play every player that we had available,” Pearl River assistant coach Diego Figueroa said. “The level didn’t drop when we made these substitutions. We showed how deep and strong our roster is. We kept the momentum going.”

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Pearl River (9-0-1 overall; 7-0 MACCC South) was on the prowl from the opening whistle, pressuring Southwest (5-8; 1-6) constantly.

The Wildcats once again got on the board early in the contest, bagging their first goal in the 15th minute. Mohamed Diallo (Gulfport) dashed down the left side of the field before crossing a ball along the ground to Andre Nicholson (Kingston, Jamaica; Clarendon College) who was standing in the center of the box. The Wildcat midfielder smashed the ball home right past the Bear keeper.

Less than 10 minutes later, Julio Cezar (Curitiba, Brazil) scored for the first time in the maroon-and-gold. Nicholson dribbled around two defenders before making the short pass to Cezar who kicked it into the back of the net to make the score 2-0.

The Wildcats were unable to add on any more goals in the first half as they entered the break with a 2-0 lead.

The rapid scoring began after the players returned to the field.

Two minutes into the half in the 47th, Nicholson dribbled to the box and the Southwest goalkeeper came dashing out to try to make the slide tackle. Confusion ensued as the Southwest players stopped defending as they believed there was a foul. Pearl River kept moving as the loose ball found Alex Emery (Gulfport; West Harrison) who passed it to Ryley Smith (Manchester, England; Castlebrook). Smith easily tapped it into the net to make the score 3-0.

Nicholson picked up the brace in the 57th minute, using his dribble skills to make his way around the charging keeper, setting up an easy tap in.

Just one minute later in the 58th, Emery bent a pass around a Southwest defender that rolled to the foot of Harper Baggett (Ocean Springs). With no hesitation, Baggett booted the ball past the keeper to make the Wildcat lead 5-0.

Baggett retook the scoring lead in the 62nd minute, adding in his ninth goal of the year. Nicholson had an easy run to the goal but decided to push the ball across to Baggett who tapped the ball in for the easy goal.

The Wildcats capped the scoring in the 89th minute as Austin Schruff (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus) scored for the first time in his collegiate career. A corner kick to the near post was tapped into the net to the right of the lunging keeper by Schruff, making the final score 7-0.

At the end of the game, Nicholson was named man of the match.

“Andre keeps growing every game,” Figueroa said. “The biggest thing for Andre is something that we talk about before every game which is being selfless. Selfless movement of the ball, selfless decisions with the ball and that showed tonight. Andre had an easy tap in goal but decided to slide it in for Harper who had a few misses in the game. That’s a big reason Andre got the man of the match today.”

Pearl River hits the road Tuesday to take on Meridian at 7 p.m. before returning home on Friday for sophomore night against Copiah-Lincoln.