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Poplarville soccer learning from game experience

The Poplarville Hornets’ boys soccer team was in need of a victory after starting the season strong with a win over county rivals Pearl River Central, but since then went on to lose four consecutive games.

Head Coach Luke Gipson said he wanted his players to start taking accountability for the way they played and become more independent on the field.

Gipson’s athletes took the the message to heart and used that momentum during the team’s 1-0 victory over Pass Christian on Nov. 19.

“I was going to sit back, evaluate and let them take control of the game and they played really well,” Gipson said.

The return of defender Gavin Lee to the line up helped with the defensive performance, while winger Bryson Andrews latched onto a cross from Gavin McGowan to score for the Hornets.

Each player has a designated role and space within a specific formation and getting the players to understand those roles has been a point of emphasis for Gipson to start the season.

Against Pass Christian Gipson said his athletes did a good job of maintaining their shape, while also being dangerous on the attack.

“I thought they stuck to their roles and when it was their opportunity to be positive towards goal they did a good job. Then when we lost the ball they tightened up,” Gipson said.

Poplarville lost multiple key starters from last year’s team so Gipson went into the season knowing he needed to find players to fill those voids.

Performances from Andrews, freshman forward Devin Ladner and others have helped the team come together and earn good results.

More time on the pitch will only help the young players and Gipson said the tough early season schedule will prepare the new players for district.

“With the battle tested schedule we had, they were under pretty good heat early. I was able to get them to a place where they were open minded about what they can do to better their performance,” Gipson said.

The team will have a long layoff before the next game of the season.

Poplarville will face county rival Picayune on Dec. 2. Gipson said getting these early games under their belts will help the athletes when the rivalry game begins.

Before that match up, the players will have plenty of time on the practice field to work out some issues that were hindering the athletes’ performances.

Previously the focus had been on communication between players.

Letting a teammate know when there’s pressure, where there’s an open pass and when to drop back are all things the players have been working on.

After the performance against Pass Christian, Gipson is adding scoring to the agenda of things that need to be improved upon.

“We need to work on finishing in the final third. Dealing with a guy running full speed at you and being calm enough to take a shot is a hard thing to do,” Gipson said.

The game against Picayune will be a home contest for the Hornets and kickoff for the boys team will be at 7 p.m.