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Late goal sends Bulldogs home from Region III soccer semifinals

Rouse 1, Nederland 0

HUMBLE — Leander Rouse kept attacking, and Nederland was not in the business of giving in.

Sophomore Sydney Sheehan angled in a goal from the left-hand side with 9:41 left, and the Raiders advanced to the 5A Region III championship with a 1-0 win over the Bulldogs on Friday.

“It was 1v1 (1-versus-1), so there was nothing you could do about that,” goalkeeper Emma Roccaforte said, finishing her final high school game with 19 saves. “They had so many chances if I had 19 saves, so I knew one was eventually going to come in. I think our defense did the best we could do, with all those situations out there.”

The loss ended Nederland’s deepest playoff run since 2000, but it ended any possibility of a third meeting with Port Neches-Groves this season in the “Mid-County Madness” rivalry. PNG lost to College Station 2-0 in the following game at Turner Stadium.

Rouse and College Station will play at 11 a.m. today, with the winner going to next week’s state semifinals in Georgetown.

Nederland (21-3-1) had a shot hit the crossbar within the first 10 minutes.

“We tried to come out early and get one,” Nederland coach Keith Barrow said. “We knew [senior forward Haley Hoppe] was going to be a threat. She’s 6-1 and holds people off well. We achieved that objective; we shot her down pretty well.”

The Raiders (19-1-4) maintained heavy pressure on the Bulldogs for much of the second half and finally capitalized on Sheehan’s goal.

“We talked about at halftime, as good of a passing team they were, we had to put some offense together, or they were going to pick us apart,” Barrow said. “That’s what they did. They’re very good at connecting passes, and we weren’t able to connect many of ours. Our defense was on our heels the whole game.

“… I was very proud of our defense and the effort we game, but I think we were a little outmanned.”

The scoreboard froze with 8:15 remaining, but time was kept in the press box.

“It’s more obnoxious than anything,” Barrow said. “You feel your whole year counting down.”

The most difficult part, according to Roccaforte, was realizing time was running down, although it wasn’t visible on the videoboard.

“It’s difficult because you know it’s over, but, I mean, a lot of us are going to another chapter,” the future McNeese State player said. She and teammate Madison Ledet, who’s headed to Lamar, will compete in the Southland Conference.

“I’m definitely proud of all we accomplished because we haven’t been here in so long,” Roccaforte said. “I think it’s a good way to end my senior year.”

And Nederland is losing only three starters to grdaution.

Meanwhile, Rouse’s defense kept Nederland from getting many clean looks at the net down the stretch.

“In a game like this, you always have to be ready,” Roccaforte said. “They can immediately go down from their side of the field to our side of the field. It’s exhausting trying to play the whole time and trying to pay attention. It’s more of a mental game when it’s always on our side of the field.”

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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