• 59°

Picayune soccer adjusting to new formation

For years the Picayune Maroon Tide soccer team played in a 4-3-3 formation.

It’s an attacking style of soccer the majority of players are focused on the final third.

However, this year’s personnel allowed Head Coach Britton Fortenberry to implement a system shift and transition to a 4-4-2 formation. It’s possession based and allows Picayune to maintain control of the ball during the game.

There have been some growing pains along the way as the players adjust to their new roles, but Fortenberry said the players are getting more comfortable in the system with each passing week. “You want to tailor it to their skills, so this year we felt like they developed to the point they could handle it. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re happy with the progress they’re making,” Fortenberry said.

The team’s record this season is 2-3-1; the three loses have all been by thin margins. A big reason for the close games has been the backline’s play along with good goalkeeping.

“I think our strongest unit on our team is that backline and goalkeeper. I think that defensive unit being as strong as it is has carried us this far into the season,” Fortenberry said.

Having such a strong defense allows Fortenberry to do some adjusting on the fly with his midfielders and forwards.

The safety net of a talented backline has eased the team’s transition into a new system and has relieved some pressure on the attacking players. “We have the luxury of knowing we’re not going to give up much, so it lets us adjust some things in the midfield and up top,” Fortenberry said.

After demolishing Purvis 7-0 the Maroon Tide took on Forrest County Agricultural High School on Nov. 19 and lost a close game 2-1

Now preparation begins for the squad’s game on Nov. 22 against Pass Christian.

In between the two games, Fortenberry said an area of focus in practice would be the players’ touch while under pressure and working on the nuances of the new system.

“One of the main things has been their technical ability like trapping, passing and shooting. I’d like to see it be a lot cleaner. We also spend a lot of time attacking and defending out of our formation,” Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry has also keyed in on film study this season as a way to show his players how to properly handle certain in game situations.

Fortenberry said the focus on film has shown results and that his players are becoming students of the game.

The emphasis for the first couple weeks of the season has been growth as the team prepares for its district schedule.

In high school soccer, a squad’s performance in district solely determines their postseason possibilities.

To prepare for district Fortenberry has scheduled tough opponents to start the season, so he knows his team’s capabilities.

“They’ve played well to this point, but I think we have a lot of room to grow. It’s going to be a battle, but I’m excited and the boys are excited,” Fortenberry said.