RIDGELAND – No. 19 Mississippi Gulf Coast was beaten out for the MACJC championship Sunday when Pearl River claimed the title on penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie.
The Bobcats (10-6-1) won the penalty kick round 4-1.
"We had our chances to win and didn't finish in the final third," Gulf Coast coach Chris Handy said. "They did well early on to stop our initial press. From there, it's just a battle of wills. In the end, you've got to decide it some way."
Gulf Coast (13-2-1) still qualified for the South District playoffs, which will begin Friday in Tyler, Texas. The Bulldogs will play two-time defending national champions Tyler in the opening round of the four-team tournament. The winner advances to the national championship tournament.
Gulf Coast had an apparent ninth-minute goal ruled offside, and then went through an odd sequence late in the second half. A side volley by Jordan Hall (So, Manchester, England/Royton and Crompton) was slowed down by the Pearl River keeper, and eventually cleared from the goalmouth.
The referee didn't blow his whistle to signal a goal, but the assistant referee indicated it was a goal. After a discussion between the two, no goal was awarded.
Owen Betz (So, Pass Christian/St. Stanislaus) stopped everything he faced for 110 minutes, including a couple of spectacular saves.
It's the second year in a row Gulf Coast has been upset in the state championship game.
"It sucks," Handy said. "I hate it for the boys. They've done everything right and deserve (the title), but that's how it goes sometimes."
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