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Picayune soccer uses season to gain valuable experience

The Lady Maroon Tide soccer team endured a tough season that saw Picayune’s team go 3-14 overall and miss out on a chance to go to the playoffs.

However, the team was young and the inexperience showed at times.

“We need to realize when things don’t go our way (that we need) to have the perseverance to play through that,” Head Coach Ed Williams said.

There were only two seniors on the squad, so while this year’s record wasn’t great it allowed young players to get a good amount of playing time.

That experience could prove to be beneficial in the upcoming years as the program continues to grow, with players using this past season’s experiences to improve.

“I’m optimistic about the future. This will be the first year to have class all year to continue to build, condition and get in work we didn’t get to do in the past,” Williams said.

Picayune lost its first two district matchups against Long Beach and Hattiesburg, but earned an important 2-1 district victory over the Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils on Dec. 17.

The two teams met a month later and Picayune lost in heartbreaking fashion as the game went into overtime and penalty kicks.

PRC converted more of their chances and the defeat knocked Picayune out of the playoff picture.

There were still several games to play after the defeat to PRC, so Picayune buckled down and used the final games of the season as a way to build on the good things the team accomplished all season.

“As far as improvement I thought we improved with organization and shape. I think next year we have positive potential,” Williams said.

Now Picayune will move into the offseason where the majority of practices will focus on individual improvement.

Drills that hone in on technical skills and improving those for each athlete will be part of the upcoming athlete evaluation process for Williams.

The offseason work done prior to the summer will be used as a preparation process for the team to get ready for camps and friendly matchups.

When the temperature begins to rise and the athletes are no longer in school the practices will focus mostly on conditioning and improving certain areas as a team.

Things like the physical state of the athletes, communication and positional discipline will likely be just a few aspects the squad looks to improve upon.

Next season the goal for the team will be to make the playoffs and Williams said that as his players get older, stronger and more experienced next season’s goal will be within reach.

Unlike in college and professional soccer where coaches can look to bring players in, the Maroon Tide can’t conduct outside recruiting.

Instead, Williams is hoping these offseason workouts will help the team improve without outside influence.

“I’m trying to figure out how to manage that and manage the whole system of who am I putting where to give us the strongest chance against each team,” Williams said.