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PRC soccer uses season to grow, gain experience

The Lady Blue Devils soccer team at Pearl River Central High School had to deal with a plethora of injuries and inexperience this season.

The emphasis this season was growth and ensuring younger players got more time on the pitch.

PRC had only four seniors on the squad, so the majority of players on the field were juniors or underclassmen, but some middle schoolers did get game time.

Maintaining possession and having a good first touch were two areas of emphasis for the Lady Blue Devils this past season.

Head Coach Joe Weems said progress was made in both areas, but the team’s ability to score would need to be improved heading into next season.

“(They) haven’t been finishing well all season, but I was happy with their progress as far as possession,” Weems said.

The youth of the team played a major role in the team’s ability to get results, along with injuries to key starters.

The injuries hindered Weems’ ability to rotate his players, meaning the majority of the athletes had to play the full 80 minutes without being substituted.

Players were also forced to change positions and embrace new roles as some athletes couldn’t play due to injuries.

Roster changes affected chemistry on the field as players who may have never been on the pitch together were now expected to perform well.

The growing pains led to the Lady Blue Devils only winning one game this season, but it was a sweet victory for PRC.

On senior night for the Lady Blue Devils the Picayune Lady Maroon Tide traveled to Carriere for a district game.

The Lady Maroon Tide were still in the playoff hunt and needed to get a good result against PRC to have a shot at a postseason opportunity. The game was tied after regulation, so the squads moved into overtime.

The physical game was still deadlocked by the time the two 10 minute overtime periods ended, so the game moved into penalty kicks.

Goalkeeper Kylie Guerra came up huge and made the clinching save on Picayune’s final penalty to seal the victory for the Lady Blue Devils. The victory was a big step for the Lady Blue Devils as the team’s inexperienced players stepped up in a big way against the Lady Maroon Tide.

While there were some players who were thrown into the deep end and expected to swim this season, Weems said getting the younger players some time on the pitch will help the program in the long run.

“We were just talking it up this year to get better and looking at some of our players we haven’t seen a lot of,” Weems said. Now PRC’s soccer program will move into the offseason where the focus will continue to be getting younger players up to speed in preparation for next year.