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Local soccer teams prepare for crammed schedule

High school soccer teams across the state are preparing for a full slate of games next week.

The winter storm that knocked out power and water to much of the state also forced teams to reschedule this week’s missed games for next week, forcing most teams to play four games in six days.

The Nederland soccer teams will play Galena Park Monday, Crosby Tuesday, Memorial Wednesday and Port Neches-Groves Friday. The boys team will play at home in all of the games except Wednesday’s match against Memorial.

Coaches are still hopeful that the University Interscholastic League (UIL) will allow them to make the games up on separate weeks. UIL rules dictate that schools who are forced to postpone a game(s) due to inclement weather must make them up on the next available day(s).

“We’re just going to roll as if we are going to do what we have to do,” Nederland boys head coach Keith Barrow said. “Being that it is a statewide thing, it would make good sense for them to make some changes. It is not like it is just one or two teams that have to make up a game. That is above my pay grade, though. We are just going to schedule it as though it is any other bad weather situation. We are all in the same boat.”

Barrow, whose team is sitting at first place in the district with an overall record of 10-5-2 and a district record of 4-0-1, said teams will likely have to monitor their starters’ minutes to ensure players are fresh and healthy as they approach the second half of the district schedule.

While players are not unfamiliar with playing that many games in a short amount of time, teams usually play in tournaments prior to the start of district play. Tournaments allow teams to experiment with lineups and strategies. Barrow said it is not ideal conditions when coaches and players are focused on winning district games.

“Early on, you are trying to get everyone in and a have chance to prove themselves,” he said. “Winning isn’t the major focus that early in the season. Now, it is a little different. Injuries are a key concern. I told the guys that we have to stay healthy and rely on everyone.”

PNG’s girls team is leading the district with a 13-2-1 overall record and a 5-0 record in district play. Head coach Aimee Bates said her team is in a slightly better position than most since they only have to make up one game because they had a bye scheduled this upcoming Tuesday.

Bates said the condensed scheduled is not ideal.

“It’s not great for the kids playing,” she said. “You worry about injuries. Coaches can’t scout and prepare for their team to play like they normally do. It is what every school is being required to do. I reached out to some Austin and Houston districts and everyone is in the same boat. It’s not like the TPC explosion or the hurricanes, where it just this area.”

Nederland’s girls team is 9-4 overall and in third place with a 3-2 record in district. PNG’s boys team is in fourth place in district with a 2-2-1 record and an overall record 14-2-2.

Memorial’s boys team has yet to win a game, but the girls team is in fifth place with a district record of 2-3.

Barrow said he expects a tight race for first place.

“If you tie, you could drop two or three spots,” he said. “We are glad to still be in control of our own destiny.”