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Poplarville soccer getting ready for season

The Hornets’ girls soccer team is coming off a season in which the squad came in second in district play.

This year the bar is set even higher, with the players hoping to bring home a district title for the first time since 2003.

The team works out five days a week, and each day Head Coach Beth McShea changes it up.

Mondays and Wednesdays are spent working on ball handling skills before the players focus on conditioning.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are then spent working on conditioning, which sometimes includes running up and down the bleachers, and possibly a dribbling exercise or shooting drill to end the practice.

Fridays, the girls scrimmage each other in preparation for a season that’s slightly over a month away.

McShea said the focus thus far in practice has been ball control and finishing.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on our attack. Last season we could maintain possession of the ball, but didn’t always have the shots on the goal to show for it,” McShea said.

The squad will be banking on last year’s MVP, senior Renee Harris, to pull the strings for the team.

“She’s a great leader for the team, and sees the field like no other player I’ve coached before,” McShea said.

The team did well in district last year, making it past the first round of the playoffs.

This year, the squad wants to make a run in the playoffs, McShea said.

The team will need to score goals to do that, and McShea said juniors Juliana Wells, Evelyn Kimball and Jaycee Bridgers will lead the Hornets on the attack.

Defensively the team will be inexperienced after graduating three of the four starters from last year.

Mollie Brown will be the only returning starter, but McShea said her players have done a good job of filling the holes left by the graduating seniors.

“The freshmen and sophomores replacing my graduates have stepped up in a big way. I also have some players that have moved to defense that haven’t played it before, and are doing really well with the transition,” McShea said. Senior goalkeeper Aislynn Andrews and junior goalkeeper Peyton Barber will give McShea options in front of the net, and on the field. The team’s success will live and die with how the young, incoming players adapt and fill the shoes left by the graduates.

“I have had players step up to fill in roles they may not have played in the past. I only have three seniors, but my sophomores and juniors have really stepped up to fill in for the seniors we graduated last year,” McShea said.