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.
“For me I am satisfied with the win, but like I told the boys there is plenty of improvement to be doing,” Gardner said. “I’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 that’s what it has to be, so that is what we are going to try and improve upon.”
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.
Pellum’s score would the final one of the game as defense took over during the second half leaving both teams scoreless.
After analyzing his team’s play, Gardner sat down with his team to discuss where they needed to go from here.
“I 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 can’t perform the way we did today,” said Gardner.
When pressed further about the improvements he wants to see from the Volunteers, Gardner points to things like being “more focused, quicker on the ball” and using “smarter decision making” particularly when “identifying the opposition.”
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 week’s game with a trip to Copiah Academy on Saturday.