Port Neches-Groves soccer gears up as playoffs near

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves girls soccer team is cruising into the final games of the regular season.

PNG entered the week with a 19-2 record (10-1 in district play).

The dominant Indians outscored opponents 86-16, which was best in district. The team’s lone district loss came at the hands of Goose Creek Memorial in February.

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“We started off district really well,” Head Coach Aimee Bates said.

“We dropped one we probably shouldn’t have. Looking back, it has been a blessing in disguise and made them hungrier. It has allowed them to refocus. I am very excited about these last district games and playoffs.”

Prior to the loss, Bates said she tried to warn the players they had targets on their backs.

Goalie Lillee Blanton works to stop a shot during a recent Port Neches-Groves High practice. (Chris Moore/The News)

“They are stepping off that bus and gunning for them,” she said. “They have to fight for each game. We said it, but I saw them get a little complacent. Goose Creek scored first and we got a little tight.”

The loss also helped the Indians deal with adversity.

Two weeks later, Crosby scored the first goal of the match. But this time, PNG roared back to defeated the Cougars 5-2.

The Indians hold the first seed in the district but will have to wait until they play Barbers Hill Friday to lock it up. Entering the week, Barbers Hill was second in the district and five goals back.

“I think this ’24 group has done a great job,” Bates said. “They have bought in and executed the formation with flawless changes.”

Seniors Ansley Husen, Emerey Riley and Hannah Campbell are leading the team.

“They have done a great job stepping up and leading practice and keeping focus,” Bates said. “I am super proud of them. Right under them, my juniors and sophomores are preforming, stepping up and taking the seniors’ lead. It has been awesome.”

Junior Ava Zumo is the district’s leading scorer and near the top of the list in assists, as well.

Bates said the team’s mindset has seen the greatest improvement on the season.

“They are hungry and relentless,” she said. “They have really bought in. Our goals were to be undefeated in district, which we fell short on that. We still want to finish as district champions, and this group wants to go further than any other team has ahead of them. That would be going to the regional finals.”

The Indians play their final match of the regular season against Baytown Sterling March 19.