Poplarville soccer gets valuable game experience

Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

Seven out of the 11 starters for the Poplarville soccer team are in their first year of being the first on the field.

Some of their inexperience showed when the Hornets traveled to Petal High School on Oct. 26 to take part in a jamboree with Florence and Petal.

However, Head Coach Luke Gipson said his players were able to calm down as the games continued and the experience was vital.

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“You could tell we had some first game jitters. Some of the guys are gaining experience at the varsity level for first time. Once they got to the second game they settled in and were more confident,” Gipson said.

The team only played one half against each team, with Florence being the first opponent for the Hornets.

Gipson liked the team’s performance against Florence, but said the game against Petal showed his squad’s potential.

“With the first game it was more of feeling out the situation and seeing who would do what under pressure. In the second half they did really well communicating,” Gipson said.

There will be growing pains as the season goes on, but jamborees like the one that took place over the weekend allow Gipson to evaluate his team’s strengths and weaknesses.

As the season progresses the players will become more comfortable in their roles and will be able to better handle any adversity that comes their way, he said.

“Those seven guys started developing leadership roles.

I thought they handled the adversity well. The effort and heart is always there,” Gipson said.

There are still a few things Gipson wants to get cleaned up in practice before the regular season starts.

One focus will be the team’s transition offense after gaining control of the ball.

When team’s push up it can leave them vulnerable to a counterattack, so Gipson said he wants his team to take advantage of those opportunities.

“We’re going to be working on transitions, being positive towards the goal and pushing up,” Gipson said.

It’ll also be a time for the younger players to get some more practices in before the season begins when the Hornets head to Carriere to take on the Pearl River Central High School’s Blue Devils.

The game will be on Nov. 2 with the boys team playing at 7 p.m. Following the game against PRC, the squad won’t have much respite as they play again Nov. 5, Nov. 7 and Nov. 9. It’s a quick turnaround for a sport that requires so much running, but Gipson said his players are prepared for the rigors of the season after spending the past couple of months working on conditioning. “I think they’ll do well because we’ve done so much preparation endurance wise, but we also get to try a lot of things,” Gipson said.