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Coach: Nederland girls soccer team is more unified than ever

The Nederland girls soccer team is more unified than ever, according to head coach Katherine Miller.

Like many teams around the country, Nederland saw its hopes of a deep playoff run lasts season dashed by the pandemic, which shuttered Texas schools in March. Miller said high school soccer teams are usually made up of 20 student-athletes with different lives, agendas and goals, but this year, the shared experience of the pandemic brought them closer together.

“They have bonded a lot better,” Miller said. “For the first time in a long time, I’ve seen these ladies have a common goal and common understanding of the situation. They are all in the same actual boat. It’s actually kind of weird how on the same page they all are. It is just different from previous years.”

Miller said the senior group is laser focused on the task at hand, knowing the next game on the schedule is not guaranteed.

“Because they saw how COVID impacted the seniors of last year, they know not to waste their time and goof off,” she said. “Every next game that we are able to play is good. My goal and eagerness is for the next game. Of course, I look forward to that Port Neches game, but we just want to make it to the next game.”

The team started the season with a 4-1 record, beating Hargrave 5-0 Saturday. Miller said getting the season started is a win in itself.

“We have a very serious mindset right now, but we also understand that we need to enjoy the time we have with one another and make the most of it,” she said.

Nederland returns nine seniors this year, meaning the team is strong and solid all the way through the field, coaches say.

“We have a good up high led by Maria Rendon and Karrie Faith Anders,” Miller said. “Our backline is really strong and led by a lot of senior leadership.”

Faith Anders, Rendon, Jordan Minaldi and Madison Plumley are the team’s captains.

They all work a different area.

“With all of those four, we have everything covered,” Miller said. “They are really good at communicating and encouraging their teammates.”

Miller is also excited to see what two freshmen can bring to the team.

“We have Chloe Gomez, who has a strong and aggressive personality up top and we have center back Jayli Broussard,” Miller said.

Miller changed the way she assess goals on the field and with her students in the classroom.

“As their coach, my main goal is to make sure they enjoy themselves,” she said. “I want them to have positive memories this year, so that this year is not so tied to COVID. If they are able to produce at a high level, I want help them to achieve their goals.”

Nederland’s next match is scheduled for Jan. 22, as the Bulldogs take on Hargrave again on the road.

Nederland opens district play against Memorial Jan. 26 in Port Arthur.