No. 13 Pearl River rolls over East Central in home opener
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 13 Pearl River men's soccer team dominated East Central from start to finish in Tuesday's home opener, winning 8-0.
Mohamed Diallo (Gulfport) and Harper Baggett (Ocean Springs) both earned hat-tricks in the match.
"I thought we played very well," head coach Drew Gallant said. "We were able to use a lot of our depth. This is back-to-back games that we were able to use multiple players and lots of bench depth. It was a good job by the guys, and they executed very well."
Pearl River (1-0-1 overall) scored early and often to begin the match, adding four goals by the 11-minute mark.
Diallo tallied the first goal of the game in just the 2nd minute when he bent a free-kick from 20 yards out into the top left corner of the net, leaving the East Central (0-2-1) goalkeeper no chance to make the save.
"Mo's free-kick to start the game was beautiful," Gallant said. "That's a great spot for him on free-kicks."
Two minutes later, Baggett received a cross from Andre Nicholson (Kingston, Jamaica.; Clarendon College) and backheeled the ball to the left of the diving keeper for his first collegiate goal, doubling the score in the process at 2-0.
Baggett picked up a brace in the 7th minute of the contest. Ryley Smith's (Manchester, England; Castlebrook) shot was deflected by the keeper and Baggett was there to tap it home to make the score 3-0.
Nicholson bagged his first goal of the season in the 11th minute. Alex Emery (Gulfport; West Harrison) booted a ball from the back line and into the box where it landed at Nicholson's foot. After a dribble and swift turn, he laced the ball along the ground to the far post to make the score 4-0.
Diallo scored his second goal of the game in the 37th minute. Bryan Maradiaga (Gulfport; West Harrison) dribbled the ball along the outside of the box before passing it inside to Diallo who quickly put it past the keeper, putting the Wildcats ahead 5-0.
Diallo earned a hat trick in the 52nd minute. After bullying his way into the box and through two East Central defenders, he rocketed a ball straight by the keeper.
Jamie Chamberlain (London, England; Dover Athletic Academy) got on the scoresheet two minutes later. After a Smith shot was blocked, Chamberlain caught the rebound with his right foot and smashed it home on his first touch, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
Pearl River capped the scoring in the 55th minute as Baggett picked up his first career hat trick.
Jason Irias (D'Iberville) crossed a ball to the far post where Baggett headed it home.
"It's very nice having Harper there as a center forward," Gallant said. "He's a big body up there. He gives teams a lot of problems in the air. I don't know that we had a center forward score a goal in the air last year. He was able to get one and had another called back. He provides a lot for us."
The Wildcats finished the game with an 8-0 win which was the largest since their 8-0 victory over Meridian in 2019.
UP NEXT Pearl River hosts rival Jones College in MACCC South Division play on Friday. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. and will be livestreamed on PRCCMedia.com/gold.