MGCCC Soccer sweeps Pearl River for MACJC titles
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College soccer not only brought home two MACJC titles Sunday, the Bulldogs also made history as both the men’s and women’s teams won state championships in the same season.
MGCCC coaches Neil Scott, Travis Dickey, and head coach Bary Thrash (all standing in back) celebrate with the Lady Bulldogs after defeating Pearl River for the MACJC title Oct. 23.
What made it even sweeter is that both wins came against archrival Pearl River. The men (14-4-1) stopped the Wildcats 1-0 while the Lady Bulldogs (15-4) also beat Pearl River by a 1-0 margin.
“We always knew we had it in us,” said Gulf Coast head soccer coach Bary Thrash, who’s been the team’s leader since Gulf Coast began playing soccer in 1998. “You can’t ask for anything more than to win two state championships on the same day against your fiercest rivals. This is a special day for our kids.”
The men got their goal on a penalty kick by Harrison Russell in the game’s 74th minute and held on for their first MACJC crown since 2009.
“We just tried to stay calm and focused and play relaxed,” said Russell. “On the penalty kick, I just found a spot in the net and tried to make a good kick.”
The Lady Bulldogs netted the only goal in their contest from Kelsi Weaver in the 61st minute. It’s the women’s first MACJC title since 2008.
“I tried not to panic when I took the shot,” said Weaver. “If you freak out in those situations, it never turns out well. This team has had its ups and downs, but we’ve stayed together, and it helped us today.”
When the team bus arrived back at the Perkinston Campus, it was escorted by the police and greeted to a mini pep rally and cheers from Bulldog fans celebrating the historic event.
The Lady Bulldogs win also means Gulf Coast will host next week’s Region 23 Tournament, which features Gulf Coast, Pearl River, and Meridian.
“The kids just kept on believing they could do it,” Thrash added. “We’ve been hoping for this kind of day since I’ve been here, and now that’s it’s happened I’m just elated.”
If that weren’t enough, Thrash also added that the two state titles came on the 23rd of October, with the “23” being significant because Thrash’s son Kai wore the number 23. Kai Thrash played on the college’s first soccer team in 1998 but died two years later after a long battle with cystic fibrosis. Since then, all MGCCC soccer teams have worn the number 23 on their jerseys in honor of Kai. This weekend Kai was also inducted into the MGCCC Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I know he’s looking down on us and loving every minute of it,” Thrash said.
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