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Poplarville gets a win over county rival Picayune

A testy and physical game between the Picayune Maroon Tide and Poplarville Hornets boys soccer teams ended with the Hornets claiming a 3-1 victory Monday evening.

Poplarville’s players had the week of Thanksgiving off and Head Coach Luke Gipson said the time off might have had an impact on the team’s performance.

Even so, the team was able to earn a win and Gipson said he was happy with the way his players matched up.

“I thought we looked rusty, but we were physical. They had some big guys and we matched them physically,” Gipson said.

Two own goals scored by the Maroon Tide helped the Hornets, but winger Bryson Andrews had the highlight of the night with a beautiful curler of a free kick from outside the box.

Andrews is coming into his own as he gets more minutes, but Gipson said it’s Andrews’ understanding of the game that has really helped him this season.

“For Bryson he’s gaining confidence as an athlete and with that confidence is coming more effort. He’s learning his role and coming back defensively,” Gipson said.

After some early game jitters Gipson reminded his team to settle down and possess the ball.

Some halftime adjustments were made, which is when the team began taking possession of the ball more frequently.

“I was able to tell our guys that our full backs could push up and they were giving us space in between the outside backs and midfielders. That’s whenever it started clicking and we started possessing more,” Gipson said.

However, Gipson wants his players to be able to see the game and make the adjustment themselves.

Making in game adjustments on the fly will be a point of emphasis for Gipson as district play approaches.

If the team can read the game and make the decisions quickly it can only benefit attacking players like freshman Devin Ladner and junior Seth Santiago as they look for an opportunity to score.

“Seth Santiago is gaining momentum. He’s a guy that can be very physical and is still learning like a lot of our guys.”

“He’s finding his confidence to play freely,” Gipson said.

Communication between the lines, such as between defenders and midfielders or between midfielders and forwards, is incredibly important in soccer.

There are things some players can’t see because of their position on the field and it’s the responsibility of others to make those calls.

It’s especially important when a defender is tracking back to get a ball sent over the top and can’t see if there is a player pursuing him.

“I want my full backs to communicate. On a narrow field, that can be costly and (defender) Sonny Davis is good enough to possess it and get out,” Gipson said.

The team’s next game will be against Sumrall on Dec. 5, which will include an hour-long ride up I-59.

Travel can affect any team, but Gipson said his players enjoy the process and it shouldn’t have an impact on their performance.

“They’re usually a team that travels well. They’re a close-knit team. They love riding the bus and being together on the bus,” Gipson said. Poplarville will be hopeful the chemistry translates to the field against the Bobcats.

The match will begin at 7 p.m.

A call to Britton Fortenberry, Picayune’s soccer coach, was not returned before press time.