Port Neches-Groves coaches reflect on season’s success after playoff exits

Published 12:09 am Tuesday, March 29, 2022

PORT NECHES — Both Port Neches-Groves soccer teams fell in the first round of the playoffs over the weekend.

The PNG girls squad fell 2-1 to Manvel, while the boys lost 5-4 to Texas City.

Both teams won district titles this year, with the girls team finishing 11-1 in district play, while the boys earned the top seed with a record of 9-2-1.

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Girls Head Coach Aimee Bates said she doesn’t typically talk much to teams after games but said the team got together Monday and reflected on the season.

“I told them I was proud of them no matter what,” she said. “Even though that loss is still fresh on our minds, we want to enjoy the good moments. We talked about those. Going through a four-month season is more than just one game. Those girls loved coming to school. A lot of that is attributed to last period soccer athletics. It is a family atmosphere and they can’t wait to get there… We’ve laughed together and cried together… I loved this team and coming to athletics.”

Bates said it will be tough to see the four seniors move on after the school year.

“That group was special,” she said. “We got to watch them grow from little girls coming up in the program and the camps. They led from their hearts. They are the vocal leaders. Sometimes you end the season and the young group is intimidated by the seniors. We didn’t have that. The seniors showed them how things work and how we do things. They took a lot of time with them. The seniors made everyone feel a part of the team. Because of that, we had great team chemistry and are district champions because of it.”

Bates said the team’s best games were against Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Nederland.

Boys Coach Chad Luttrull will remember his team for the resiliency.

“Life is bigger than any game you play,” Luttrull said. “Life is all about ups and downs. Sometimes the job you want or the raise or promotion doesn’t go the way you want it to go, but you need to understand God is in control and you are going to be OK. No matter what happens, the sun is going to come up tomorrow. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They should hold their heads up high.”

He will miss the nine seniors who were on varsity this season.

“I think we ended up with four seniors that started for us,” Luttrull said. “They provided a lot of leadership and hard work. They were able to leave their mark on this season. We are going to miss all of those guys. Not just the four that started for us but all nine of them.”

Luttrull said the group’s hard work paid off.

“I don’t think anybody would’ve picked us to win this district this year,” he said. “They were able to do that. We have had teams in the past that were supposed to win district and we have had teams that weren’t that did. It is just a testament to their hard work and what they were committed to doing.”