Junior Colleges

Gulf Coast hammers East Central in playoff opener

DON HAMMACK/COURTESY GULF COAST 
 Mississippi Gulf Coast's Matt Ross dribbles against East Central during the Bulldogs' 8-4 first-round playoff victory Tuesday in Perkinston.
DON HAMMACK/COURTESY GULF COAST Mississippi Gulf Coast's Matt Ross dribbles against East Central during the Bulldogs' 8-4 first-round playoff victory Tuesday in Perkinston.

PERKINSTON -- Juan Salazar's goal 32 seconds into Mississippi Gulf Coast's first-round playoff matchup against East Central showed exactly what kind of game was in store.

The Bulldogs won a soggy, sloppy, wide-open shootout 8-4 Tuesday in Perkinston to move on to the MACJC semifinals. Salazar had a hat trick in the offensive explosion.

"It felt great to get the first goal and get us going in the playoffs," Salazar said.

Gulf Coast (14-4) is scheduled to play Hinds at 6 p.m. Saturday. Weather concerns may force the game to move to Friday.

East Central ended its season 6-11-1.

The teams combined for eight goals the first time they met this season. The sloppy play in the latest game got an extra boost by the remnants of Hurricane Patricia.

"I think most of it was the field," Gulf Coast coach Chris Handy said. "We're an up-and-down team; I think we're best when we're running up and down rather than keeping too much possession."

Salazar added another goal along with a pair by Jordan Parron and James Beattie's first to lead 5-2 at halftime.

Beattie added another nine minutes into the second half, followed a minute later by a Lewis Tillman goal to make it 7-2.

"The conditions were definitely tough, but we dealt well with it," Gulf Coast's James Beattie said. "The four goals you can say were due to the conditions, but our eight goals were also due to the conditions."

The Warriors made it 7-4 with a pair of 57th-minute goals before Salazar pounced on a turnover and blasted his hat-trick topper into the upper 90 with 25 minutes to play.

Gulf Coast heads to the next playoff game with a dose of confidence, having beaten Hinds 2-1 in Raymond early in the season.

"That's a really tough game. It's going to be a tight game. For sure they'll put up a battle, just like they did in the second game of the season when we went into extra time."

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