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Picayune soccer team embracing the process

The Picayune Lady Maroon Tide soccer team went into the new year still very much in the playoff race with a district record of 1-1.

The first portion of the season saw the young team experience some growing pains, but Head Coach Ed Williams said the improvement from the start of the season to the most recent game is obvious.

“Sometimes it takes a little bit of getting used to, but for the most part, with the principles of the game, you can see improvement,” Williams said.

Williams said the team can still get better when it comes to scoring and tightening up defensively.

However, understanding the game tactically and the players’ ability to piece together passes have improved.

Williams said the issue has been consistency for the Lady Maroon Tide.

The team has the talent and acumen to win games, but it’s a matter of putting the two together in order to earn victories.

“We’re not consistent enough to do it every game. (We’d win more) if we could ever play a full game from beginning whistle to final whistle,” Williams said.

Williams is trying to shift the culture of the program into one that expects wins and rewards hard work and effort.

That means the players are expected to not only be physically capable of playing the game of soccer, but have the mental ability as well.

The games are long and taxing, so being able to maintain focus as fatigue sets in is important for Williams’ athletes. “Mental endurance is difficult. We don’t sub a lot so they have to focus along with the physical endurance, especially when you add the pressure of it being a district game,” Williams said.

The team will have plenty of pressure in the upcoming matches as Picayune fights for a playoff spot.

The team’s youth means a lot of players have not been in a position to need to fight for a postseason spot.

Williams said even if the team doesn’t make it to the playoffs, the way the squad plays is what he’s focusing on. “It’s not the wins and losses, it’s the standard we play with and when you get the standard high enough those things take care of themselves,” Williams said.

The team has taken the holiday break as an opportunity to recharge heading into the final games of the season.

While there have been some practice sessions over the break, Williams said he understands the need for his players to rest.

Now the team will begin preparing for its first match of the new year when the Lady Maroon Tide will host Hancock County’s Lady Hawks on Jan. 7 and Williams knows what he wants to accomplish before the season ends.

“Our goal coming back in is to win some games to set us up for a better season next year, whether we get in the playoffs or not,” Williams said. The match against Hancock is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.