POPLARVILLE– Drew Gallant's soccer squad isn't taking it easy this preseason. The Pearl River Community College men's soccer program has an ambitious slate of exhibitions in the coming weeks that the Wildcats hope will adequately prepare them to maneuver through the MACJC's harsh schedule.
The Wildcats open their preseason slate Thursday night at William Carey and host Mobile Saturday before traveling to Millsaps on Aug. 19.
The Crusaders and Rams are No. 1 and 2 respectively in the Southern States Athletic Conference's preseason poll.
"They'll both likely be Top 10 preseason in the NAIA as well. We like to find our weaknesses and they have definitely done a good job of doing that in the past," PRCC coach Drew Gallant said. "That's why we play these games."
The Wildcats have had a productive start to the preseason.
"Things have gone really well. The players are definitely picking up on things quicker than expected and I think we're further along than originally anticipated," Gallant said. "Luckily the majority of the players came in fit, so the goal is to get them set in the formation we want to play in."
Gallant is also trying to drill in defensive responsibilities this week. Most of the players were offensive stars in high school and were never really required to work on their defense. That won't be the case at PRCC, where Gallant demands his athletes excel in all three thirds of the pitch.
"Everybody is a forward or attacking mid in high school. The style of defending we use, they've never done it, but luckily our team is very smart," Gallant said.
The new Wildcats also learned quickly what expectations are like at PRCC, where the program is fresh off its sixth MACJC title.
"They know," Gallant said. "I think a big reason a lot of them come here is because of how well we have done in the past and look to keep the tradition going.
"Everyone likes to win."
The Wildcats open their season at home Aug. 22 against Itawamba Community College with a 4 p.m. kickoff. All of PRCC's fall teams will be honored the next night, Aug. 23, as part of Meet the Wildcat festivities, which will begin at 6 p.m. at Dobie Holden Stadium.
Pearl River Community College
Director of Communications for Athletics