POPLARVILLE, Miss. — A third member of Pearl River's 2019 women's soccer team is headed to the next level after attacker Maddie Beets (Long Beach) recently announced her intention to play at William Carey.
Beets joins Shelby Harrington (Oak Grove) and Zigi Ahortor (Accra, Ghana), who signed with the Mississippi University for Women and Jackson State respectively.
"It's great for Maddie to be moving on to a national powerhouse like William Carey. They're always top 5 in the country," Pearl River coach Henrik Madsen said. "It's also good for us as a program to show other schools we have players who can compete at that level. Hopefully she'll help open the door for future Wildcats."
The 5-foot-4 redshirt sophomore said she chose the Crusaders because of the potential challenges — both on the field and in the classroom.
"Their program is one of the most respected women's programs and that is something I want to be a part of," she said. "Being a part of a team like this is a huge opportunity that I just could not pass up.
"I am going to be challenged, which is going to make me a better player and person."
Beets signed with PRCC ahead of the 2018 season but was injured during preseason and missed the campaign. She made up for lost time this season, leading the Wildcats with eight goals and tying for the team lead with six assists.
"Maddie brings a lot of tenacity to the pitch," Madsen said. "She's quick, strong, can use either foot and has a winner's mentality. She's just class.
"She's very goal driven, which you need out of a striker."
Following her successful season, Beets was named to both the All-MACJC squad and represented the South Division in the annual league all-star game.
In addition to being a star on the field, Beets was a star pupil as well.
Beets earned a spot on the President's List all four semesters. She was also named to the MACJC's Distinguished Academic list both years and was named to the NJCAA's academic third team as a freshman and first team this year.
"My time at Pearl River means a lot to me. Throughout my two years I have come across so many people that I will never forget," Beets said. "From the coaches, to my teammates, to the athletic trainers, and everyone else at PRCC. The school is truly a family and the support from everyone really meant a lot. I did not have the best circumstances my first year at Pearl River when I got injured. If it wasn't for the people that I was surrounded by and the support that I had, I don't know if I would have ever come back as strong as I did from the injury.
"My coaches, teammates, and athletic training staff pushed me through and made me better. There really are no words to truly describe how much Pearl River meant to me. It was for sure one of the best decisions I ever made and I never doubted that.
"I can't thank Coach (Jack) Byrd enough for bringing me to Pearl River and his endless support through my first year. I am forever grateful for Coach Henrik and Coach Tom (Keen) with the help of Coach JP (Valadares). They have all three significantly impacted me as a player and a person."
Beets joins a program that won its first ever NAIA National Championship in 2018 and fell in penalty kicks in the 2019 semifinal round. The Crusaders are annually one of the top teams in the country and have won 61 games over the last three seasons.