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Picayune soccer trying to be more clinical

The Maroon Tide boys soccer team has been competitive in every match its played.

The issue has been finding the back of the net as Picayune has lost a couple of close games.

Defense has been solid, but the team has struggled finishing in the final third and Head Coach Britton Fortenberry said that’s been a point of emphasis in practice.

Picayune’s new formation means the team plays a possession based style of soccer, keeping the ball away from the opponent while building from the back.

After crushing Purvis 7-0, the Maroon Tide has lost back to back games against Forrest County and Pass Christian, but that’s not due to lack of scoring opportunities.

“We had most of the possession and had double digit shots, we just have to get better finishing when we have the opportunities,” Fortenberry said.

The team is young and adapting to a formation that’s being implemented this year.

Players have been learning the nuances of the new system, while also dealing with some inexperience in certain areas of the pitch.

Improving game by game has been the team’s mantra and Fortenberry said the progress his team is making is a positive sign.

“We still have a little ways to go, but I can see the improvement. I can see them communicating more and moving around,” Fortenberry said.

Even with the ups and downs of the season, team chemistry hasn’t been a problem for the Maroon Tide.

The players may be young, there are 10 sophomores on the squad, but the athletes have been competing together for years.

The familiarity between the athletes has translated to the field and has seen the team improve in a short period of time.

“It’s just been about them growing together and learning new concepts I throw at them. I’m pretty demanding on them, but they’ve been great. They come together and play hard,” Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry is a big proponent of studying film from the team’s games as a way to point out areas that need improvement.

He’s seen some good and bad on film, but that’s part of the process as his young players mature.

“The finishing has to get better. I would like to see us utilize wide spaces and see the outside backs get more involved in the attack,” Fortenberry.

The team’s next match up will be against county rival Poplarville on Dec. 2 starting at 7 p.m. Fortenberry said Poplarville always provides a tough test for his team, but he’s excited to see how his players perform. “It’s going to be a tough match up and that’s good because I want my boys to be tested before district. We’re going to stick to what we do because I’m a firm believer in our style of play,” Fortenberry said.