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Poplarville soccer building confidence against district foes

The Hornets boys soccer team won four of its last five games, including a 4-1 defeat of Forrest County on Dec. 12.

Poplarville is scoring regularly, having put the ball in the back of the net 13 times against Hornets’ last five opponents.

Zach Carpenter, Seth Santiago and Gavin McGowan all scored against the Aggies, while Devin Ladner and Bryson Andrews provided three assists combined on the night.

The players were able to find open space and take advantage of it against Forrest County.

A focus this season has been the ability of the players to make adjustments on the fly and Head Coach Luke Gipson said his team did that against the Aggies.

“So much about this season has been about them finding their voice and taking control. See what the defense is doing and take advantage of it,” Gipson said.

Santiago had two goals against Forrest County and has four on the season along with an assist.

The attacking midfielder is coming into his own this season and Gipson said the performance against the Aggies will only increase his confidence.

“I think he’ll take it and keep building and say, ‘I can do this I can be a leader.’ He’s proven to himself and his teammates that he can do this,” Gipson said.

Part of that success comes from Hornets focusing on possessing the ball and making opponents chase the game.

Players must be calm under pressure and find simple passes in a build up before trying to make an attacking foray into the opponent’s half.

However, understanding the significance of a mundane passing drill in practice can be hard for players before they’re put in a game day situation.

Getting those little things cleaned up will be the focus in practice this week for the Hornets.

“Yesterday and today is about simple possession. Movement off the pass is what we’re working on,” Gipson said.

The Hornets were scheduled to face Greene County in an important district match up Dec. 16, but the game was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Instead the team’s next game will be against Purvis on Dec. 20 and Gipson is hoping his team will control the ball against the Tornadoes.

The focus for the Hornets will be making sure everything is purposeful and the ball isn’t just launched up field without reason.

The team has also received some reinforcements as injured players have returned to the field with more on the way.

Trae Wilson, a member of the football team, has only recently joined the team after fulfilling his duties on the gridiron, while the team will also be getting back Dameion Lawson from injury.

Lawson was originally slated to be one of the team’s starting midfielders, but strained his ACL putting him on the sidelines.

Gipson said he’s looking forward to having Lawson back considering what he brings to the team from the center defensive midfield position.

“He’s close to returning to full speed and I’m excited because he’s big, strong and distributes from the CDM spot,” Gipson said.