Alive and kickin’: Lady Indians need PKs again to shock No. 3 Lady Panthers

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

BAYTOWN — Port Neches-Groves soccer coach Aimee Bates had one statement to make after her game plan Tuesday against Class 5A No. 3 Fort Bend Ridge Point worked to perfection.

“Just watch how it ends,” Bates said before the first player for either team kicked a penalty kick during the shootout.

The Lady Indians knocked off the Lady Panthers 3-1 in the penalty kicks behind another stellar performance from sophomore keeper Libbie LeJeune.

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LeJeune made three saves in the shootout. It is the second straight PN-G victory in a shootout after Friday’s 0-0 (4-2) win over George Ranch. Now PN-G will take on either Stratford or A&M Consolidated at 4 p.m. Friday at Turner Stadium in Humble.

The PN-G (18-2-6) strategy was simple to figure out: play defense and frustrate Ridge Point (23-2-1). Ridge Point had scored 34 goals in the last five games before Tuesday.

PN-G’s defensive strategy to keep the Lady Panthers off the scoreboard worked all night long at Stallworth Stadium. They had 17 shots in regulation and the two overtime periods, and none of them got past LeJeune, who finished with 12 saves.

Ridge Point finished with 14 corners in the match. None of them could find the back of the net.

Bates pulled off the upset to send the Lady Indians to their second consecutive regional tournament by putting out a tough defense. The Lady Indians at times played with seven and eight defenders and in the second overtime had nine back on defense.

“We knew if we played our style of soccer, they were going to beat us,” Bates said. “They are better at possessing the ball than us. We scratched that and went to a more kickball style of game, which we don’t ever do.”

The plan worked great for Bates as the two teams were tied 0-0 after regulation.

Bates was not giving up on offense. She hoped at some point in the match the Lady Indians would be able to pull off a counter play off their defense. The Lady Indians only had three true shots in regulation and overtime.

LeJeune blocked the first Ridge Point penalty kick in the shootout and junior Hailey Loupe quickly answered with a point. The next Lady Panthers shot did find the back of the net before Sophie Brant put the Lady Indians up 2-1.

LeJeune then made another save before PN-G missed its first penalty kick. A third save put the Lady Indians in position to win the match off the leg off sophomore Atalia Garcia. It was Garcia’s shot in the Friday shootout that won the George Ranch match.

Garcia did it again for PN-G and sent the No. 3 team packing.

“I couldn’t do this without my team,” LeJeune said. “I knew they had fought so hard, so I had to fight as hard as they did. Everyone doubted us but I knew. Our defense did excellent. I couldn’t be more proud.”

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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