On an unseasonably warm afternoon the soccer teams of Starkville Academy and Heritage faced off with the Volunteers looking to make it two in a row following a victory over Presbyterian Christian School on Saturday.
Coach Robert Garner and his team got their wish as they defeated the Patriots 2-0 and moved one step closer to the playoffs.
Even with the victory, Gardner knows his team has a lot of work ahead of them if they want to succeed in the postseason.
â€śFor me I am satisfied with the win, but like I told the boys there is plenty of improvement to be doing,â€ť Gardner said. â€śIâ€™ve said to them that the things that are going to separate us at the end of the season is our focus and our concentration and thatâ€™s what it has to be, so that is what we are going to try and improve upon.â€ť
There may be improvements to be made in the future, but for the present Starkville Academy looked like a much improved team as they took control of the game from the very beginning.
Scoring within the one-minute mark was Jake Goodwin. On the first attack of the game for the Volunteers, Goodwin hit the net from the top of the box to make it 1-0 ballgame.
Continuing the scoring was Drew Pellum who scored from inside the box around the 18-minute mark to give Starkville Academy a two goal lead.
Pellumâ€™s score would the final one of the game as defense took over during the second half leaving both teams scoreless.
After analyzing his teamâ€™s play, Gardner sat down with his team to discuss where they needed to go from here.
â€śI feel like the talk we were able to have as a team afterwards is that our identity needs to improve; and if we are going to play into the playoffs and win a playoff game for the first time since 2006 then we canâ€™t perform the way we did today,â€ť said Gardner.
When pressed further about the improvements he wants to see from the Volunteers, Gardner points to things like being â€śmore focused, quicker on the ballâ€ť and using â€śsmarter decision makingâ€ť particularly when â€śidentifying the opposition.â€ť
The 10-2-1 Volunteers have a few games left in the regular season to work out the kinks before entering the postseason.
First up Starkville Academy will travel to Hillcrest Christian on Thursday, followed by a home stint for senior night against Parklane Academy on Friday and lastly the Volunteers will round out the weekâ€™s game with a trip to Copiah Academy on Saturday.
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