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Poplarville soccer makes progress this season

The Poplarville Hornets soccer team fell during its final game of the season when it traveled to St. Stanislaus Tuesday for a playoff game where the Hornets lost 7-1.

The score wasn’t what the Hornets wanted, but Head Coach Luke Gipson said making it into the playoffs and playing against such an accomplished program like St. Stanislaus was a step in the right direction.

“The first 15 minutes we were timid and dealing with nerves, but our program took a step forward by being there and experiencing that,” Gipson said.

The Rock-a-chaws have multiple state titles, recently winning it all in 2017.

Gipson said going against a program like that led to some early game jitters for the Hornets.

However, as time passed the team became more comfortable and was able to battle against a talented St. Stanislaus team.

“Once they settled in they played well and realized they could play well with those boys at that level. It was too little too late, but it’s a growing experience,” Gipson said.

Looking back on the season overall Gipson said his team surpassed his expectations.

Poplarville had to replace seven starters from last year’s team, so the athletes’ performances this year were a sign of progress for the program.

The team was able to fill the holes left by departing players with athletes of similar talent, which speaks to the depth of the program as a whole.

Gipson said that in the past the team would’ve folded under the pressure St. Stanislaus brought in the first half, but the Hornets were only down 2-0 when the halftime whistle blew.

“It was really something that would’ve deflated us and I thought we handled it well. I thought that speaks a lot about their composure,” Gipson said. The team was young with only four seniors on the squad.

Poplarville will return the majority of its starters next season, but Gipson said this year’s senior class has helped lay the groundwork for future success.

“What they brought was relentless work ethic, willing to work hard. That laid a good foundation for our program,” Gipson said.

The Hornets will now move into the offseason.

Poplarville will use this time to do work in the weight room, training sessions and film sessions.

Gipson said a main focus would be educating the up and coming players on the intricacies of the game.

Understanding the sport and what to do in certain situations is key in soccer, and with the team having some spots that’ll need to be filled, it’s important that younger players know what they’re doing on the pitch.

“We’ll try to fill the gap with content knowledge of how you play the game and progress mentally,” Gipson said.

As summer approaches the team will likely participate in a team camp and a few friendly matches to keep the athletes on their toes until the start of next season.