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Poplarville soccer looking to grow with win

The Poplarville girls soccer team has so far had a season filled with commanding victories.

Sprinkled in between the wins have been some tough losses to talented opponents. Head Coach Beth McShea said inconsistency has hampered the team this season.

On Dec. 9 the Hornets took on Stone and lost 4-1.

A point of emphasis for the team has been improving ball handling while under pressure.

Taking a touch and making the right play is hard to do when an opponent is fast approaching, but it’s a necessary skill in soccer.

Against the Tomcats, McShea said her players struggled with the high press and didn’t take the time to calmly make the right decision.

“That was probably our downfall, we just rushed everything. Stone played great and it panicked us a little bit, so we resorted back to not taking care of the ball as much as we should have,” McShea said.

However, the tables were turned when Poplarville faced Forrest County Agricultural on Dec. 12.

The Hornets dominated, winning the match 7-2.

Having such a commanding advantage allowed McShea to put inexperienced players on the pitch.

Younger athletes, who maybe wouldn’t get a lot of minutes of time on the field, had the opportunity to gain experience.

Building the team’s depth by getting young players game time will only help the Hornets as they progress through the season.

“Especially when you have to worry about injuries as you go late in the season, getting depth and good experience is very beneficial,” McShea said.

The backline has seen some turnover, which has affected the team’s defensive performances.

McShea said she lost a starting center back to a torn meniscus at the same time as a previously injured defender returned.

It worked out to have the void left by the injured defender immediately filled, but McShea said having players in and out of the line up has affected chemistry on the field.

“Other defensive players came back and are just getting back in the rhythm. They’re doing well, it just takes lots of questions, lots of film to help them,” McShea said.

Up next on the schedule for Poplarville is the Greene County Wildcats.

The Wildcats are currently undefeated in their district and will provide a good challenge for the Hornets as they head deeper into district play.

McShea said a calm performance offensively and shutting down passing lanes defensively will be the key for the team against Greene County.

“I’m hoping to see us roll off our win and play well together. I think we’re heading in the right direction, we just have to be consistent to get there,” McShea said.

The home game against the Wildcats will take place Dec. 16 and is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.