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PNG grinds through playoff win; coach says “we are only going to get better”

PORT NECHES — A banged up Port Neches-Groves girls soccer team found a way to win a close match Thursday against Texas City in the bi-district round of the 5A playoffs.

The Indians, who were the only area girls team to advance, pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Stingarees and will play Fulshear at 7 p.m. Tuesday at PNG High School.

Nederland dropped a 5-2 match to Manvel.

PNG head coach Aimee Bates said she was pleased with the win, but that her team has plenty to clean up.

“It wasn’t our best game, but we were gritty and found a way to win,” she said. “We scored off of two set pieces, so I was excited about that. I was glad we had the focus on both of those to find the back of the net.”

The match was the first for PNG in 13 days. Bates said the team had to shake off some rust.

“We are only going to get better,” she said. “It is nice to win a game when you aren’t playing your best, because knowing you can improve all across the field going into the next game gives us confidence.”

Bates said her team’s ability to grind out wins is one of its strongest attributes.

“It was like that Barbers Hill game,” she said. “I am glad we had that experience and were able to draw from that.”

Once again, the PNG defense came up huge, allowing the Indians to outshoot Texas City 27-7. Freshman goalkeeper Emerey Riley had five saves.

The first goal came in the 16th minute of the first half when Rylee Miller found Kelsi Comeaux off a corner kick.

“The second goal came off a free kick,” Bates said. “Rylee Miller played it short to Emma Zumo. Everybody thought she was going to launch it, but she played it short to Zumo out their on the wing. She took a touch and crossed it to Marlee Sonnier on the backside and she finished. That came with about 11 minutes left in the second half and that put us up 2-0.”

Texas City scored its first goal two minutes later.

Even though there is plenty to learn from in PNG’s first playoff game, Bates said she still wants her team to enjoy every playoff win.

“We want them to celebrate and enjoy the moment before we move on,” she said. “The celebration wasn’t as big as other games. I think they were a little disappointed that it was so close and we didn’t come out and play as well as we hoped, but a playoff win is a win. We never want to take those for granted. Whether they are ugly wins and dominating, at the end of the day, somebody’s season is over and we live another day.”