Mississippi Gulf Coast waited until the dying minutes to clinch their second straight MACJC South Division title, but a 1-0 victory at Pearl River on Friday did just that.
Jeff Bruni Jr. (So, Gulfport/Gulfport) scored with 1:59 to play to run their division unbeaten streak to 20 games.
"To repeat is impressive at any level," Bulldogs coach Chris Handy said. "But more importantly, it means you make the final four. You skip the quarterfinals and go right to the weekend, which is never a guarantee."
It was Bruni's fifth goal, third most on the team. Jordan Hall (So, Manchester, England/Royton and Crompton) got the assist.
Keeper Owen Betz (So, Pass Christian/St. Stanislaus) saved a first-half penalty, diving to his right to force the attempt around his post. He then survived a flurry of three consecutive corners on the way to earning his sixth shutout.
Pearl River is 7-4, 4-2.
"We weren't the sharpest," Handy said. "We didn't play poorly. They played hard and well. I give them a lot of credit."
Gulf Coast (9-2, 6-0 South) will play in the state semifinals on Oct. 28 against the winner of the North No. 2 vs. No. 3 quarterfinal matchup. The tournament will be hosted by the North women's champion.
"It gives us a good eight days to work on things to get better," Handy said. "You know for a fact we'll be playing on Saturday, which gives us another three weeks to continue to get fit, continue to work on things and continue to tinker and try to finish out."
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