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Picayune soccer falls to South Jones in second round playoff match

In what was a physical, emotional playoff game the Picayune Maroon Tide fell to the South Jones Braves 2-0 Saturday night.

The two teams battled in the first half and were scoreless until there was just over 10 minutes left in the half when South Jones took advantage of a free kick.

A curling shot from outside the box found its way in, giving South Jones a 1-0 lead.

That lead carried over into the second half, and just four minutes after play had resumed South Jones scored again to put the game at 2-0.

Picayune had multiple scoring opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize, and with the victory the Braves now move into the next round of the playoffs.

The Maroon Tide’s season was full of adversity dealing with both a long list of injuries and losing players to COVID-19 quarantine protocols.

However, Head Coach Britton Fortenberry said he was pleased with how his players were able to overcome all those challenges and make it to the second round of the playoffs.

“I’m extremely proud of this group. They played hard all year. We pushed them harder than we’ve probably ever pushed before, and even playing in a game like this is a testament to the growth of this group and the growth of this program,” Fortenberry said.

The experience of the squad’s seniors was influential in the team’s success this year since they occupied numerous key positions for the Maroon Tide.

The group has helped build the program into what it is today, and the legacy they’ll leave behind will serve as an inspiration for upcoming athletes.

“All of those seniors I’ve had since their seventh grade year. They’re just a special group. It was the first real group where I could mold them into what I saw for this program. They’ve performed well, played great all year and it’s been a joy to watch them. I’m going to miss them,” Fortenberry said.

However, the squad’s younger players stepped up in a big way to keep the Maroon Tide rolling even when key players went down.

“This group has been resilient, that’s been the word all year. We got hit multiple times with COVID. We fought through a lot of injuries. We haven’t been whole since the second week of the season, so we’ve had to play multiple young guys and they just constantly showed up and put us in a good position to have success. I can’t speak highly enough about everybody top to bottom from the seniors to the freshmen,” Fortenberry said.

The team’s young players were thrown into the fire this year as they took over positions for players that were knocked out of the line up.

While the introduction wasn’t ideal, Fortenberry said getting those inexperienced players time on the field will benefit the program moving forward.

“Honestly, I think that’s the reason we made it as far as we did was because of the depth and being able to play a lot of players. Even when we went down we kept winning games.

We’re excited about what we have coming up. We have a bunch of young guys returning who can really set the tone for us so I’m not expecting much of a drop off,” Fortenberry said.