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Poplarville girls soccer defeats Purvis

The Poplarville Lady Hornets won their soccer match against Purvis 4-0 on Friday, Dec.  20, which was the team’s final game before the winter break.

Midfielder Juliana Wells started the game’s scoring and put the ball back in the net for a second time shortly after halftime.

Chasity Dearman and Jaycee Bridgers added goals later in the second half while goalie Peyton Barber recorded a clean sheet for the Hornets.

Poplarville won’t play again until Jan. 6 against Greene County, so getting a win before the layoff sets the Lady Hornets up nicely in their district.

Head Coach Beth McShea said the team was recently in a bit of a slump.

Against the Tornadoes, Poplarville had some good combination play, especially after halftime.

McShea said the players just needed to relax, which is what led to the improved performance in the second half.

“We started kind of slow. In the second half they decided to come out, have fun and enjoy it and that really helped,” McShea said.

The Lady Hornets moved the ball well against the Tornadoes.

Quick passes between the midfielders and forwards led to Purvis’ players getting pulled out of position and Poplarville pounced on those attacking opportunities.

Having possession allowed the Lady Hornets to tire the Tornadoes and as the game wore on more scoring chances presented themselves to Poplarville.

“When we click on all cylinders and enjoy playing that’s what they do. We are really good at one touch soccer, keeping it away from people and playing the passes and combos,” McShea said.

Sophomore Morgan Westling played the majority of the game as a central striker and used her physicality to quickly win back balls for the Lady Hornets.

Westling’s work ethic was on display and McShea said some halftime pointers helped Westling understand how to battle back against Purvis’ physical defenders.

Another tireless player was holding midfielder Renee Harris who was key in distributing the ball up and out to the team’s attacking players.

McShea said Harris’ development has been impressive and the midfielder has a great feel for the game.

“She’s been the smartest soccer knowledge player I’ve ever coached. She just sees it,” McShea said.

Her field vision and awareness allows her to quickly find outlets when under pressure.

The quick passes then turn into combinations with other players, allowing the Lady Hornets to turn a take away into a counter attack.

A big part of those combinations is the communication between athletes.

By communicating with each about where to pass the ball when an opponent is approaching or if there’s time to take a touch plays into the Lady Hornets’ ability to quickly get the ball in the final third.

“When they communicate they’re on fire. When they let each other know someone is coming it’s huge,” McShea said.

There will be a 10-day period with no practices for the squad as McShea and her players enjoy the winter break.

McShea said it’s important for the players to have some time off to prevent burn out, while also allowing the players to rest their legs after an intense start to the season.

Poplarville’s next game is Dec. 6 against Greene County, but McShea said it’s the athletes’ responsibility to stay conditioned during the layoff. “A lot it is up to them to run so they don’t get out of shape, which they usually do a good job with,” McShea said.