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Poplarville boys soccer defeats Greene County

The Hornets’ boys soccer team beat the Greene County Wildcats in an important district game 2-1 on Jan. 6.

The two teams are fighting for a playoff spot in a district led by Stone County.

The game was rescheduled to Jan. 6 because of inclement weather, so the first game back from the holiday break saw the Hornets thrust straight into a district match up.

Poplarville was down 1-0 heading into halftime, but two second half goals from freshman Devin Ladner and junior Seth Santiago led to the Hornets’ victory.

Ladner’s goal was a diving header off a cross, while Santiago curled a shot into the top corner from outside the box.

Bryson Andrews and Zach Carpenter provided the assists on the night and Head Coach Luke Gipson said he was happy with the way his team settled in after the first half.

“They played very inspiring soccer in the second half. You could tell we were a little rusty in the first half, but then they settled in,” Gipson said.

Gipson said the win against the Wildcats was a big step in the right direction for Hornets as they chase a playoff spot.

Coming back from holiday break meant the team had fewer practices to get in shape physically.

In the past, Gipson said the practices over break would be intense to try and keep the players in better shape.

However, the fast paced practices only succeeded in tiring the players out after having played the first half of the season with no break.

Now the practices aren’t as fast paced, so Gipson said the change in intensity helped his players this year as they went into the game against Greene County with fresh legs.

“I thought our energy was great. I thought physically we looked really good. We’re in better shape than we have been previously,” Gipson said.

Poplarville’s players like to maintain possession and they were able to do just that against the Wildcats.

Gipson said the issue wasn’t possessing the ball, it was remaining calm while under pressure.

While in possession, players may hear an incoming opponent and make a quick pass that could be easily intercepted by a defender.

Instead, Gipson wants his players to be more aggressive when taking on a defender.

The ability to stay calm and take a defender on, or find a cutting teammate will better serve the Hornets while in the final third.

“Last night we possessed the ball more than Greene County, but we would rush ourselves. I want them to challenge the defender one on one and not make it so easy on them,” Gipson said. The team won’t have much time to rest as the players prepare for another district game on the road against Purvis on Jan. 7.

Poplarville beat the Tornadoes 6-1 earlier this season and will be hoping for a similar result.