The Port Arthur News
Monday night’s task for Port Neches-Groves sophomore defender Abby Sturdivant was simple – keep Hardin-Jefferson’s Kat in the bag.
The Lady Indians had to have a solution for Hardin-Jefferson’s dynamic scorer, sophomore Kat Padgett. They turned to a teenager who has been on soccer fields all her life and they easily captured the 4A girls bidistrict soccer playoff victory, 3-0 over the Lady Hawks on the Lamar University soccer field.
Coach Aimee Bates’ PN-G squad improved to 18-5-4 and advanced to Thursday night’s 4A area-round game tentatively scheduled for 7:30 in Humble’s Charles Street Stadium. PN-G will face the winner of Tuesday night’s bidistrict game between Montgomery and Waller. Montgomery captured the 39-4A league title while Waller finished fourth in District 40-4A.
A 14-year architect of the Indians’ boys soccer program, Spikes Sturdivant built PN-G into a respected area and regional power before he left the head coaching position after the 2006 season. A little daughter named Abby used to hang near her dad on the sidelines. Now the dad proudly gets to watch his daughter.
The tone of this bidistrict game seemed more one-sided than the 3-0 final score because PN-G dominated shots on goal, 19-4, and never permitted a shot on goal through the game’s first 65 minutes. That’s because PN-G’s coach knew how to keep Kat contained.
“We shut down their offense because Abby marked their playmaker Kat so well,” the 12th-year Lady Indians coach said. “Abby has been real solid. She has come a long way this season.”
When it seemed as if Hardin-Jefferson had something going, the Lady Hawks still had to get past PN-G senior goalkeeper Lauren Lovejoy. They also had to stop Lady Indians senior forward Jenna Morgan from taking target practice against H-J’s fine sophomore keeper Janie Davis.
One of District 38-4A scoring leaders all season, Morgan dribbled a couple of times near the top of the 18-yard box and whacked home the game’s first goal with 33:01 left in the opening half. As good as Aimee’s defense was, that’s really all the offense PN-G would need.
They seldom receive the plaudits they deserve, but these Lady Indians play defense at a very high level. PN-G’s girls permitted 10 goals in 27 games, recording 16 shutouts. That means Aimee Bates had more quality defenders than Lovejoy and Sturdivant. They included seniors Amber Guthrie, Courtney Broussard, Abby Miller, Lauren Rogers and sophomore Bailey Stewart.
It also speaks volumes about the defensive work from Morgan, Hannah Higgins, Makayla Johnson, Bailey Tran and other offensive weapons when an opponent tries to advance across midfield.
Miller made it 2-0 with 20:08 left in the first half. Guthrie and Broussard climbed the ladder, deflecting a high-rising corner kick into the visitor’s net with 7:37 left in the half.
The rest was a matter of keeping the Kat in the bag.