Mississippi Gulf Coast went on the road and gave defending champion Tyler all it could handle Saturday, dropping a 2-1 decision in Texas.
"Somehow we managed to be proud and disappointed at the same time, encouraged and discouraged at the same time," Bulldogs coach Chris Handy said. "We're proud because of the effort but disappointed because we should have won."
The Bulldogs (0-1) gave up a goal in the first minute but bounced back to tie it when Brayan Resendiz (Fr, Horn Lake/Horn Lake) picked the Apaches keeper and scored.
Gulf Coast had a couple of chances to take a first-half lead when Jordan Hall (So, Manchester, England/Royton and Crompton) couldn't convert a penalty and C.J. Smith (Fr, Brampton, Ontario/David Suzuki Secondary School) got in on a breakaway and his chip over the onrushing keeper clanged off the crossbar.
Handy said his team isn't a better team than Tyler, but they made it a nip-and-tuck game with aggressive play that made the opposition uncomfortable.
"I don't anybody could argue with it being 50-50," Handy said. "They had their chances because they're Tyler Junior College. I would argue we had better chances in the first half and it should have been 3-1 at halftime."
Tyler took the lead in the second half off a penalty kick of its own with 23 minutes left. Handy protested that to the referee he failed to recognize the assistant referee's offside flag before the handball in the box to no avail.
Gulf Coast turns around and plays Texas College, an NAIA team, Sunday at 10 a.m. The Bulldogs open MACJC play Friday when they travel to Jones County. The home opener is Sept. 5 against Pearl River.
"After our first (preseason) game, I think we've gotten better every single game," Handy said. "The opponents haven't gotten easier. Tyler is probably the best team we've played and that's not an easy place to play against a team that hasn't lost since 2015."
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