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Poplarville soccer getting next wave of players ready

Poplarville’s Lady Hornets soccer team had about a one week break after the season’s end to recover, then it was back to work for the athletes.

The Lady Hornets narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last season, so the offseason will be used to try and rectify the issues that prevented a postseason opportunity.

Poplarville will be losing three seniors to graduation, including key cogs in the team Renee Harris and Aislynn Andrews.

Harris was the team’s maestro in the center of midfield while Andrews spent most of the season anchoring the backline as a center back for Poplarville.

Audriana Jackson rounds out the three athletes whose shoes will need to be filled.

Head Coach Beth McShea has been having the remaining athletes hard at work, so the players will be ready to step up come the start of the next season.

The team has been focusing on strength, conditioning and improving technically with the ball.

“It’s just about getting them in shape and lifting weights a little bit. (I’m having) some of the people who didn’t get a lot of playing time get a lot of practice time,” McShea said.

Having a good source, or sources, of leadership is paramount during the season, but it’s in the offseason when those leaders really need to step up.

The start of the next season is months away, but the players need to make sure they’re being productive until then.

If progress isn’t made before the start of the season, then stacking wins can become even harder as the team has to adjust on the fly.

McShea said it’s a mixed bag when it comes to her team’s focus during practices.

Every Tuesday a player is chosen to lead a drill in order to build leadership skills.

It’s an opportunity for players to step up and take charge, but also an insight for players on how to run a drill correctly.

“Sometimes they do well with that. It kind of lets them see how difficult it is, while also changing things you’re trying to do if it doesn’t fit our level,” McShea said.

A main emphasis during training sessions has been finishing in the final third and refining players’ first touch.

McShea said her team struggled to find the back of the net last season against talented, defensive teams.

The Lady Hornets were also hindered by heavy touches at times, so McShea is having all of her athletes work on being able to control the ball.

“From top to bottom, from goalie to forward, I’m trying to get everybody on the same page skill wise,” McShea said.

As the months go by and summer approaches the schedule will change for the Lady Hornets.

From June 1 through June 3 Poplarville will take part in Pearl River County Community College’s summer soccer camp.

Following that McShea said there are plans for her athletes to take part in some seven on seven games to keep the players active.

“It’s more about trying to get new people acclimated in a game setting and getting used to playing without the seniors,” McShea said.