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MCC Eagles take big victory

By By Austin Bishop/EMG regional sports director
September 13, 2003
In case you wondered, Meridian Community College soccer is back in the national spotlight.
There are some differences. These days the players are from places like Brandon, Clinton and Meridian instead of Jamaica, South Africa and Great Britain.
But, at least on Thursday night, the results were the same.
The Eagles used a tremendous defensive effort to overcome two red cards on the way to earning a 1-1 overtime tie with Young Harris College, the No. 8-ranked team in the latest NJCAA poll.
It's not like they didn't have their chances.
The Mountain Lions of YHC nearly scored on a header off a nice cross just two minutes into the game.
After the early scoring assault by the visitors, Meridian (4-0-1) began to mount offensive runs of its on.
After a scoreless first half, Young Harris picked up a goal, when a loose ball in the box was poked into the net from point-blank ranged with 36:36 left to play in the match.
MCC nearly scored just over a minute later when Brandon Rodgers made a beautiful pass from the right side that rolled along the ground just in front of the goal mouth, but his fast-closing teammate couldn't get to it in time to get off a shot.
But, with 31:41 to go in the game the Eagles got a break when Young Harris was called for a foul inside the penalty box setting up a penalty kick.
Bryan Bledsoe made it count by firing the ball past the YHC goalie to tie the match.
Both teams had decent scoring threats over the next 25 minutes, before things began to turn against the Eagles.
MCC's Benton Dufour received a yellow card with 5:15 left in regulation. It was his second for the game, giving him a red card. That meant the Eagles had to play the rest of the match with 10 players, one less than the Mountain Lions.
Meridian was called for a foul in the box with 4:28 left in the match setting Young Harris up for a penalty kick. But MCC goalie Will Sowell came up big, knocking the ball clear to the right side of the net.
The trouble continued to mount for the Eagles in overtime, as defender Eddie Graham was red-carded with just five seconds left in the first 10-minute extra period.
That left the visitors with a shot at goal from just outside the 18-yard box. Again, MCC turned away the attack, setting up the second 10-minute period.
Although the Eagles spent most of the waning moments of the game just trying to hang on since they were playing two men short, MCC did have a couple of quick scoring opportunities off steals deep in Young Harris territory.
MCC returns to action today when the Eagles play host to MACJC South Division rival East Central Community College at 6 p.m.
The MCC women take on Shelton (Ala.) State at 4 p.m.