On Saturday January 31st the Poplarville Hornet boys’ soccer team clashed with the 4A powerhouse and number 1 seeded Bay High Tigers. Both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities throughout the first half of play. Poplarville was awarded a free kick midway through the first that was saved by the Bay High goal keeper and bounced off the cross bar and eventually found the back of the net, but the goal was waived off because the ball was ruled it hit the field goal post which deems the ball out of play. The first half saw sophomore goal keeper Austin Carter make quality save after save to shutout the Tigers in the first half.  The score was 0-0 at halftime.

The second half was much the same as the first half, except about 10-15 minutes in the Tigers were able to play a long ball and all-star nominated #24 Parker Rose was able to put a head on the ball to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.  Both teams would give them chances to score but only the Tigers were able to grab the early goal and held that lead to the end.  The final was 1-0.

Coach Smith commented on the game and his season afterwards, “Today we were able to go toe to toe with one of the better soccer programs year in and year out. Not many people were giving us a chance in today’s game and my guys wanted to prove that we belong on this level of competition. I think today we showed that Poplarville soccer is relevant. We battled, fought, and competed so hard today to just come up short, but I told my kids there is no reason not to hold their heads high today. We just gave a very quality opponent all they wanted and then some. We should be very proud of how we competed and on all the accomplishments we were able to achieve. Some of those accomplishments were the most wins in a season (13), most goals scored in a season (86), and least goals allowed on a season (23). Also this was the first time the Hornet boys’ program reached the playoffs and also recorded a win in the first round. This is a great stepping stone for the Hornet soccer program and with us returning 9 of 11 starters next season we will be looking to grow on this year.

For the first time we (Poplarville Soccer) have been getting recognized on the state level and by national organizations. We have had 2 players receive ‘State player of the week’ presented by maxpreps.com (Noah Pearson, Austin Carter (2). Carter just received the award for his second time this season for the week on January 19-25th.  Also Senior forward and PRCC Signee Noah Pearson finished the season with 37 goals which puts him atop the state in goals scored (he also is the leading goal scorer for a single season at Poplarville). Noah finished his career with the most goals in a 4 year span in Boys soccer at Poplarville with 70 goals in 47 games”.

With the season over now Coach Smith noted, “A lot of my players will now move on to spring football and baseball to get the chance to showcase their talents in those sports and I wish them the best of luck in those seasons. This spring we will take some much needed time off and then pick back up with weights and conditioning sometime in April”.