Jesus Maldonado’s 3 goals paces PNG to strong start with tournament win

Published 12:10 am Friday, January 7, 2022

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Indians started off the home tournament on the right foot as they blew by Bridge City in an 8-0 contest Thursday.

Jesus Maldonado completed a hat trick with three goals during the match.

“It feels good to help out the team,” he said. “I always like to help out the team. Of course, it is nice to score three of my own.”

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Tate Sandell, Landon Proenza, Andres Sandoval, Gio Oceguera and Reyes Gonzales also scored goals. Sandell led the team with three assists.

Maldonado said he wants to score as many goals as he can this season to help the team win.

The senior is happy to be able to play a tournament in front of a home crowd.

“It feels good,” he said. “We have a lot of schools coming here and we get to watch them and everything.”

A total of 16 schools are participating in the tournament with Nederland and Memorial also in the mix. The tournament runs through Saturday.

“We have been really lucky this year with the weather,” PNG Coach Chad Luttrull said of playing host. “We are really blessed to have this. We have four soccer fields. We are really blessed to have our facilities… You couldn’t ask for a better thing to start the year off. Good weather and a good tournament.”

While the coach was pleased with his team’s performance, he said he just wants to improve.

“We have a long ways to go to get to where we need to be,” he said. “We are excited. I feel like we had some seniors that stepped up and played really well and scored a bunch of goals today. As long as we continue to get better, this year is going to be really good for us.”

Luttrull said the tournament also allows him to tinker with the line up to find the best fit for each player.

“You get to get some guys in that don’t get as many minutes as the other guys,” he said. “You get a chance to score some goals. We had some guys that made some really key passes. It was good for them to get to play a little more… I just like the way they moved the ball around. Whether we are playing a 6A school, a 5A school or a 4A school; we have to be able to pass the ball. We did that really well today.”

Memorial will start today off with an 8:30 a.m. match against Silsbee, followed by a contest between Nederland and Vidor at 10:15 a.m. PNG will take the field against West Brook at 4:45 p.m.