LEADING THE WAY — Port Neches-Groves’ Ava Zumo delivers goals for high-scoring squad

Published 12:18 am Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves girls soccer team secured a district championship last week with a 3-1 victory over No. 2-seed Barbers Hill.

Goals have not been a problem for the high-flying Indians, who have scored 104 back-of-the-netters this year (averaging 4.5 goals per game).

PNG scored 34 goals in their last five games, including a 12-0 win over Memorial and a 8-0 victory over Baytown Lee.

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Leading the charge is junior Ava Zumo, who has amassed 26 goals on the season and is a frontrunner for postseason all-district honors.

“She is a tenacious, cheeky forward that always gives it her all when she is on the field,” Head Coach Aimee Bates said. “She hustles and gets after it. She also is one of the top assists leaders. She is not selfish with the ball. She sets her teammates up and does what the team needs of her.”

Zumo, who is in her third year on varsity, said team chemistry is important to the squad that earned a 21-2 record.

When asked about the keys to being an elite scorer, the junior gave credit to her teammates.

“I think it is the whole team,” she said. “It is the passes leading up to (the goal). It is not just me. I got really lucky from a team standpoint. I have lots of trust in them. We hang out all of the time and practice every day. We have a lot of trust on this team.”

PNG has solidified itself as one of the premiere soccer programs in the area, winning district 14 times dating back to 2006.

Zumo credited coaches for creating a competitive environment.

“Our coaches and staff are really good and bring a lot,” she said. “We do lots of stuff a lot of teams don’t do. We have lots of team-bonding stuff that we do.”

Zumo said one of her goals for the season was to help the team get past the regional round, which has been a barricade for the Indians over the past several years.

In her off time, Zumo picked up pickleball with her friends.

The sport has picked up some momentum over the past year with local advocates pushing the City of Port Neches to add a court.

Zumo said she picked up the new hobby last summer and considers herself one of the best of her friend group.

PNG take the field one more time in the regular season as they close out against Baytown Sterling on Tuesday.