PNG girls begin own soccer tournament
Published 11:35 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017
PORT NECHES — The experience on the Port Neches-Groves girls soccer roster is quite impressive and makes coach Aimee Bates smile.
When one adds in the quality of the players, the smile grows from almost ear-to-ear.
PNG is off to a 2-0-1 start to the year after participating in the Waller tournament last week. The Indians host their own tournament starting today with a match at 2:40 p.m. against Pasadena Dobie.
PNG also plays at 6 p.m. against Victoria West. Both games are scheduled to be at Indian Stadium.
Bates and the Indians are coming off an 18-3-6 year last season that brought the team to the regional semifinals.
A&M Consolidated defeated PNG 1-0 to advance. It was the second consecutive trip to the regional tournament for PNG.
Now the Indians are back and ready for more.
“The team has little things already starting to jell together,” Bates said. “We found our niche on formation and how we plan to run it. We are learning our identity and what we stand for. All that comes during the scrimmages and first practices. I like where this team is headed.”
Captain Hailey Loupe is without question the leader of PNG. Loupe has been on varsity since the day she walked on the campus of PNG High School and is headed to Lamar on a soccer scholarship.
“When you have someone like Hailey Loupe coming back it’s awesome,” Bates said. “The girls want to play up to her level. She has been on varsity for four years and she knows what we stand for. She has stepped us a leader. Plus, we have a great group surrounding her.”
The pieces behind Loupe also have a lot of experience and make for one of the best teams in Southeast Texas.
Jillian Flores is also a great offensive threat, according to Bates, and Kacie Wallace and Kinsey Bigham are key defenders.
“There are so many different components to this team,” Bates said. “It doesn’t matter if you have the same people starting for four years. Everyone has grown a little bit and they bring their talents together to become a true team.”
Oh, and then there is the one who Bates believes is the best goalie in District 22-5A, junior Libbie LeJeune. She went into last year with no soccer experience and finished as one of the biggest reasons the Indians lasted as long as they did in the playoffs.
“She takes not only shots from the team every day but we load up the ball machine and she takes 100 shots a day,” Bates said. “She is getting better and learning. She does not look like second-year keeper. We are excited about her.”
The Indians face Sam Rayburn at 2:40 p.m. Friday and Hardin-Jefferson at 6 p.m.
The team finishes off its portion of the tournament at 11:40 a.m. Saturday against Baytown Sterling.
Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe