Early flurry sends Irish past PCA

Published 11:47 pm Friday, January 27, 2017

Porters Chapel Academy and Greenville-St. Joseph both came into Friday’s soccer game needing a win — PCA to start building a winning streak, and Greenville-St. Joe to stop a losing one.

The scales of momentum, on this day, tipped the Irish’s way.

Greenville-St. Joe scored three goals in the first half, including two by Michael Mansour, and beat PCA 4-0. Craig Gardiner had the other two goals for St. Joe, one in the first half and the other in the second.
The Irish (2-7-1) snapped a two-game losing streak.

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“This was a good morale booster. It was a tough game. I’m proud of the way my guys played. They came out and they hustled. The first half, I thought, was better than the second half,” St. Joe coach Craig Mandolini said. “It seemed like things are finally coming together. We’ve had injuries, we’ve had people quit, and we’re just now hoping to get in our groove and hoping we can stay in it.”

PCA (2-5) had beaten River Oaks in its last outing, and was competitive in this one, but never got rolling offensively. After controlling the first 10 minutes of the game, the Eagles’ momentum faded and they weren’t able to pick up the intensity until they were already too far behind to come back.

PCA finished with five shots on goal and had a number of scoring chances that were denied by St. Joe’s defense.

“We were holding onto the ball a little bit longer than we should. Not taking that shot when we know we need to take it, and really just not going up for the ball. We weren’t scared of it, it’s just misjudging the ball a little bit and those opportunities slipped away from us,” PCA coach Thad Wade said.

The best chance came a minute into the game, when Dillon Little headed a corner kick from Josh Hunt into the crossbar. The ball appeared to get inside the frame of the goal for a split-second but never landed across the goal line, and it came back into the field where St. Joe was able to clear.

The early misfire lingered in the Eagles’ psyche for a while, Little said.

“After they scored those first couple of goals, I think everybody lost their head and didn’t know what to do. We played hard in those first few minutes and then when they scored I think everything went down,” Little said. “I think (scoring on the early chance) would’ve boosted everybody’s confidence and made them play harder.”

St. Joe also missed its share of chances. The left-footed Gardiner pulled a penalty kick wide right in the 14th minute, and three other scoring opportunities resulted in shots that sailed high or wide.

Finally, in the 17th minute, Gardiner broke the ice. The senior forward was almost buried in the left corner of the field, but got enough room to send a shot practically parallel to the goal. It drifted just left and high enough to get over the head of PCA keeper Mallarie Ashley and gave St. Joe a 1-0 lead.

In the 28th minute, it was Mansour that found the net. He was stopped by Ashley on a shot from point-blank range, but the keeper wasn’t able to control the ball. Mansour stepped around her and tapped in the rebound for an easy goal.

Eight minutes later, Mansour beat Ashley with a nifty juke move inside the goal box to give the Irish a 3-0 lead at halftime.

Gardiner’s goal in the 61st minute was the only one of an evenly-played second half. St. Joe outshot PCA 12-2 in the first half, but only 7-3 in the second.

Ashley finished the game with 10 saves.

“We really just got outplayed. We’re short right now. We only have one sub. But we’ve got to make it work somehow,” Wade said. “They controlled the game the whole time, they won all the 50-50 balls, made great passes. We just couldn’t ever get rolling.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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