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Poplarville defeats PRC in close game

The boys soccer teams for the Poplarville Hornets and Pearl River Central Blue Devils met Jan. 23 in a rivalry game that ended with Poplarville winning 3-2.

The two teams were evenly matched and the back and forth game saw both teams miss some scoring opportunities.

Senior Samuel Lambert kicked off the scoring when he carved through the Hornets’ defense and slotted home a shot to put PRC up 1-0 with 19 minutes left in the first half.

Poplarville’s attempts to tie it up eventually succeeded when a ricochet off a corner found senior Trae Wilson who knocked the ball past the goalkeeper.

The two teams went into halftime tied, though not without some controversy.

PRC had a set piece and the ball found the back of the net off a rebound, but as the Blue Devils were putting the ball into the open net the referee inexplicably whistled for halftime, disallowing the goal.

The teams were still deadlocked until 31 minutes remained in the second half and junior Zach Carpenter whipped a ball in from the right wing on a free kick.

The ball went untouched by any player, causing the goalkeeper to miss it and roll inside the right post.

Poplarville had a 2-1 advantage until Lambert again found the back of the net for PRC, this time with a power shot that skidded off the goalkeeper’s hands due to slick conditions.

The game remained tied until Carpenter once again was able to strike a free kick that snuck inside the near post to give the Hornets the 3-2 victory.

The matchup with PRC was Poplarville’s final regular season game before their playoff game against St. Stanislaus.

Poplarville’s Head Coach Luke Gipson said that even though the game didn’t determine anything, it was still good to have a positive result heading into the postseason.

“PRC has given us a tough game, which we wanted and needed. Fortunately for us, we got to take some momentum into Stanislaus,” Gipson said.

The Blue Devils on the other hand were playing some younger players since the matchup served as the second to last game of PRC’s season.

PRC Head Coach Joe Weems said even though his team missed several scoring opportunities, he was happy with how the inexperienced players performed.

“We have seen a lot of improvement with young players. There were a few who made a lot of progress,” Weems said.

Both teams have upcoming games.

PRC will play West Harrison on Jan. 24, which will be the final game of the season for the Blue Devils and will start at 7 p.m.

Poplarville on the other hand will have a playoff game at St. Stanislaus on Jan. 28, which is set to start at 6 p.m.

Weems said that when his team takes on West Harrison he hopes his players can be more clinical in the final third.

“It should be a real challenge as far as that goes. I’m just hoping we can finish better because that’s been a problem we’ve been having all year,” Weems said.

The Hornets will take on the Rock-a-chaws in an away game that equates to a win or go home game.

Gipson said he expects his team to embrace the underdog mentality. “I think they may underestimate us and I want to be the one to strike first, to apply pressure and make them uncomfortable,” Gipson said.