PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast earned a spot in the playoffs Saturday by shutting out Meridian 2-0 at Bary Thrash Field, and it was a valuable experience for the Bulldogs.
"We sat out last year, so this is super important," Gulf Coast coach Chris Handy said. "It was one of our goals. You can argue that it was tougher than it should have been, but the bonus is that was a playoff game. They're scrappy like that. They're messy like that. They're never as clean as you like them to be, and our guys got a taste of it. For a young team, I think that was super beneficial. The next time they play a win-or-go-home game, it won't be the first."
The Bulldogs (10-5, 4-4 MACJC South) eliminated the Eagles (4-8-1, 3-5) and will finish as the third seed in the division and play at the No. 2 team from the North on Oct. 22. That will be either Hinds or Itawamba.
Gulf Coast scored late in the first half, and it came on a Dillon Gross (Fr., West Harrison/Gulfport) pass arrowing across the top of the six-yard box in the direction of Christian Inchima (Fr., St. Edmond Campion/Brampton Ontario).
"Dillon played me the ball on a cross in," Inchima said. "I touched it with my right foot, just spun and shot it. I knew where the goal was, so I tried to find a corner."
Isaiah Gore (Fr., Laurel/Laurel) earned his fourth shutout of the season.
He scored his team-high 10th goal in the 37th minute. Gulf Coast protected the one-goal lead for 50 minutes before the Bulldogs iced it. Mack Russell (Fr., Madison Central/Madison) found James Redmond (Fr., Oberschule Roter Sand/Bremen, Germany), who closed out the Eagles.
MGCCC plays two more regular-season games before the postseason. Andrew College visits Perkinston on Sunday for a 1 p.m. kickoff, and Gulf Coast travels to LSU Eunice on Wednesday.
"I'm excited," Inchima said. "Nothing in the past matters. We've got to look forward, and every game is important. Every game should be exciting."
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