Poplarville Hornets fall to top-ranked Tigers in playoff showdown
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2015
The Poplarville Hornets boys’ soccer team saw their playoff run end Saturday when they lost a hard-fought contest against the top-ranked Bay St. Louis Tigers by the score of 1-0.
Poplarville earned their first playoff victory in school history on Tuesday and advanced to the second round for a home match against the top-seeded Tigers.
Both teams had their chances in the first half although neither could capitalize. Poplarville forward Noah Pearson was dragged down from behind just outside the penalty area, and the Hornets initially looked to have scored on the ensuing free kick. The shot bounced off the crossbar and into the net, but the officials ruled that the ball had hit the football goalposts before deflecting into the goal. The ball was blown dead, and the goal was waved off.
Bay High also had chances to score, but sophomore goalkeeper Austin Carter made a number of great plays on the ball to keep the game tied at 0-0. The Poplarville defense flustered the Tigers’ attack throughout the first half and neither team could get on the scoreboard.
The game’s only goal came 15 minutes into the second half when Bay St. Louis senior and Pearl River Community College signee Parker Rose took advantage of a defensive mix-up to head the ball into the net. Poplarville would threaten to score after that, but never managed to find the back of the net. The Tigers held on to their 1-0 lead and advanced to the South State Finals.
Although Poplarville’s season ended with a tough loss, Head Coach Adam Smith told his team to hold their heads high.
“I think today we showed that Poplarville soccer is relevant,” said Smith, “We just gave a very quality opponent all they wanted and then some.”
The Hornets set school records for most goals scored in a season with 86, and least goals allowed in a season at 23. Poplarville’s 13 wins also set a school record and earned them the first playoff appearance in program history. The Hornets defeated North Pike 2-0 in the first round of their postseason debut.
Pearson’s 37 goals made him the leading goal-scorer in the state for this season and set a Poplarville record.
Carter earned his second “State Player of the Week” award of the season for his play during the week of Jan. 19-25. National high school sports authority MaxPreps.com awards the title to the most outstanding player in Mississippi for a given week. Pearson also won that award for his impressive play earlier this season.
“We should be very proud of how we competed and of all the accomplishments we were able to achieve,” said Smith, “This is a great stepping stone for the Hornet soccer program and with us retuning 9 of 11 starters next season, we will be looking to grow on this year.”