Bulldogs blitz No. 11 Wildcats late

Published 3:19 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast’s Clint Ryals got the hero’s spotlight Tuesday night, curling a shot over the Pearl River keeper for the game-winner.


The Bulldogs went on to beat No. 9 Wildcats 3-1 at Bary Thrash Field.

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But it wasn’t the wonder strike that caught men’s soccer coach Chris Handy’s attention.


“As impressive as the shot was, I think back to the run that Bryan (Maradiaga) made to get around him,” he said. “It was very unselfish. He made it whether he was going to get the ball or not, and that froze the keeper a little bit. Clint was able to get his shot off. That’s what we need on this team, more unselfish plays like that.”


Ryals (So., Wiggins/Stone) knew what he’d done, too. He took a pass from Terron McIntyre (Fr., Madison/Madison Central) at the top right corner of the penalty area. As Maradiaga made the run around him toward the corner, Ryals got the ball on his right foot. The shot was pure and set off bedlam on the Gulf Coast sideline.


“It was amazing,” Ryals said. “I had to get it for the team. It was a good team win tonight.”


Gulf Coast improved to 6-5-2 overall, 4-2-2 in the MACCC. The Bulldogs maintained their one-point edge on Itawamba in the race for the final spot to host a regional quarterfinal game next week.


Pearl River is now 9-3, 6-2 in third place in the conference.


Seongbin Son (So., Seoul, South Korea/Guhyun) paid off Gulf Coast’s fast start by side-footing a cross from Shamar Hopkins (So., Jackson/Jim Hill) for a 1-0 lead in the 6th minute.


Pearl River equalized in the 26th minute, and the teams went to a chilly halftime tied at 1.


Ryals’ goal gave the Bulldogs the lead, and Ashton Taylor (So., Olive Branch/Center Hill) iced the game in the final two minutes on a lightning counterattack.


“We’ve struggled in the last three minutes all season long,” Handy said. “I think we’ve lost four games past the 87th  minute. So, to be able to score and ice the game in the last two minutes is big for this team. It’s big for playoff positioning, it’s big for us trying to host a playoff game, it’s a rival team, so it’s a great night.”


Gulf Coast plays its final road game of the season Friday with a trip to Meridian. Kickoff for the men’s game is set for 5 p.m. The game will be streamed at https://mcceagles.live/.


For more information on MGCCC’s 11 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.