Gazebo Gazette

The Pearl River women’s soccer team earned a hard-fought victory Friday, defeating Itawamba, 3-2 on a late goal from Sydney Spataro (Long Beach).

“I was impressed,” coach Henrik Madsen said. “I feel like we were in control of the game and then we made a mistake at the back and they came in and scored. That was frustrating but I thought the girls played well. They really battled hard.”

The early stages of the match were dominated by the defenses of Pearl River (4-4-1 overall) and Itawamba (3-5) as neither team could develop a successful attack.

The Indians made their way onto the scoresheet in the 25th minute. After running toward the right side of the goal, the ICC forward put a shot across to the far side just past Aníta Guðmundsdóttir, putting the Indians ahead 1-0.

The Wildcats knotted the score up at one each 11 minutes later as Samantha Kennedy scored for the first time in her collegiate career.

The sophomore midfielder stepped up and booted a ball from deep that bounced and went into the net over the head of the ICC keeper.

The score remained at one each entering the halftime break.

Six minutes into the second half of play, the Wildcats took the lead on Sydney Salter‘s second goal of the season. Breanna Stansberry took a shot that clanked off the near post and bounced to Salter who tapped it home to make the score 2-1.

Itawamba capitalized on a Pearl River mistake in the 65th minute to even up the score at 2-2.

In the 82nd minute, Salter pushed the ball upfield and crossed a ball into a crowd of players toward Spataro. Spataro fought her way around the group to find the cross and on her first touch put the ball into the net, putting the Wildcats on top in the process.

The late goal was all Pearl River needed as they claimed the match 3-2.

“At that point, we had really been pushing and I thought we should have had a goal a few minutes earlier,” Madsen said. “It was a good cross in and Sydney was in the right spot and gave us the win.”

The Wildcats get a break from the action for a little over a week before returning to the pitch on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at rival Jones College. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m.