Always intense: PNG, Nederland anticipate hard-fought game today

Published 12:13 am Friday, February 7, 2020

It’s always a big game, coaches Aaron Tomplait and Amy Bates both said.

The matches between Nederland and Port Neches-Groves, of any sport, draw out the passions, and that holds just as true for soccer.

“Every time we play Nederland it is an intense game,” Bates said. “So I’m expecting their girls to show up and our girls to show up and it be a battle out there.”

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The squads square off at 7 p.m. today in Nederland.

“It’s always a big game,” Tomplait said. “The girls are always really excited for it. You never know what to expect going into it. It’s best to go in, have a plan and stick with that throughout the game, adjust if you need to.”

Bates said she’s proud of the progress her team has shown so far this year. The Indians are 2-0 in District 21-5A games and 9-6-1 overall.

“I have put something out there that was pretty difficult for them to do, but I had faith that they could adapt to it and step up to the plate,” Bates said. “I’m just so proud that they bought into it and are firing on all cylinders and playing well.”

Bates likes her team’s speed going into the match and thinks the Indians will probably come out a little ahead in that regard compared to Nederland.

She hopes the Indianans will continue to play a more possessive style of game, just as they have in the past. It’s a style she wants the Indians to stick to.

“They like to possess the ball, and we want to break that up,” she said. “We want the ball at our feet. It’s just going to be about who shows up that night, because I think no matter how many times we play them, it’s going to be who goes at that game harder and wins those little 50/50 battles.”

Tomplait recognizes the Indians are going to play hard, just as he’s heard.

“Bates is going to do a great job of getting those girls going, and they’re going to play a great physical game and they’re going to play well throughout,” he said. “We’re going to have to be prepared to match their intensity and do the good things that we know how to do to be able to win a game like this.”

The Bulldogs are working well together this year, Tomplait said, especially since the team leans younger.

Nederland is 10-2-2 overall and 3-0 in district. It’s been a hard-fought struggle to come together.

“We were young so we’re slowly figuring things out, and now we’re kind of getting into a real good form where we’re playing complete games,” Tomplait said. “We’re getting better at doing that and not being so wishy washy.”

Last year PNG won in the first match 1-0 on Feb. 8 and the teams tied 3-3 on March 5. This year’s first match is looking to be a wet one, Bates said.

“I know the field, it’s going to rain all day,” she said. “It’s going to be a little bit soft. So I think that’s something that we’re going to plan on. We’re going to be on our practice fields today and tomorrow to prepare for that.”