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Hop and a skip: Bulldogs, Raiders settling issue at ‘The Butch’

5A Region III quarterfinals

NEDERLAND — The road to a state championship just got a little shorter, in a sense, for Nederland’s girls soccer team.

But the Bulldogs (19-2-2) don’t mind the long road, either.

“They like the road trips,” Nederland coach Keith Barrow said. “It just adds to the playoff experience.”

With Nederland’s 2-1 win over Fort Bend Elkins and Lumberton’s 4-0 shutout of Manvel, the Bulldogs only need to make another hop and a skip to Beaumont in the 5A Region III playoffs. This time, the setting is the Thomas Center, aka “The Butch,” and a trip to the regional semifinals at Turner Stadium in Humble is at stake.

Kickoff at “The Butch” is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It’s important to play close to home because all our friends and family can come support us,” senior Emma Roccaforte said. “It’ll be really good if we can get a large crowd out there because any momentum that we can possibly get in the playoffs is going to help.”

Nederland’s playoff run began at the Lamar University Soccer Complex with a 1-0 win over Barbers Hill on March 24, and it continued with the victory over Elkins in Baytown this past Friday. Nederland now takes on a District 22-5A opponent for the third time this season, with the Bulldogs holding a 1-0-1 edge on the season.

Sophomore Haley Dugas, who scored the first goal against Elkins, thinks familiarity with the Raiders will give the Bulldogs an advantage.

“You know their positions and stuff,” she said. “It’s going to be more intense because we want it more and they want it more. We just want to play.”

Nederland lost the first meeting at home in a shootout after a 4-4 deadlock and went to Lumberton almost a month later to score a 4-1 victory. Nederland was second in District 22-5A, just one spot ahead of Lumberton (16-5-1).

“Both games were very competitive, and we want to use our speed and quickness to counter-attack,” Barrow said. “We know we’ve got to get numbers back on defense.”

Barrow also wants to Bulldogs to make good decisions on the field, his calling card during Monday’s practice.

“I think we still haven’t played our best soccer,” Barrow said. “We’ve been doing a lot of good things and showing a lot of good moments, but we just really have high expectations. My biggest thing right now is unforced errors, making good decisions, and if we pick our head up and communicate well, they make real good decisions and can play quick.”

The winner will face Hutto or Leander Rouse on Friday. If Nederland and Port Neches-Groves each can win their next two games, they’ll meet Saturday for the regional title.

PNG and Porter will square off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Barbers Hill High in Mont Belvieu.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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