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PNG’s senior leadership keys impressive season; climb to state will continue next season

Port Neches-Groves High girls soccer coach Aimee Bates said she is grateful for the five seniors who led the Indians through an undefeated district season and into the third round of the playoffs.

Bates said seniors Abby Reeves, Tori Cutright, Sophia Torres, Grace Richard and Kelsie Comeaux were instrumental in keeping the team focused throughout the year.

“There were a lot of tears (Monday) as we said goodbye to the seniors,” Bates said. “We are very proud of the way we competed. I think we competed with class and good sportsmanship. I am there biggest fan.”

The Indians finished the season 22-3-1 and a perfect 12-0 in district play.

PNG outscored opponents 105-11.

The season came to an end Friday in a shootout against Friendswood. Both teams’ defenses were on display at Goose Creek Memorial as PNG and Friendswood were scoreless though regulation.

The Indians struck first in overtime with a shot by Abby Reeves that found the back of the net in the first half.

With nine minutes left in OT, Friendswood knotted game back up at 1-1 to force the shootout, which Friendswood won 6-5.

“The fact that we were in a situation to win it all says a lot about my team,” Bates said. “I thought they did great. If a couple of things went different, we would have been the winners right there. It was unfortunate they way it went down, but that is just the way it goes.”

Bates said the leadership of the upperclassmen made the team special.

“They put the team on their back,” she said. “They led and showed them what is expected. With over half of my team having no playoff experience (entering the season), it was important for the seniors to take hold.”

Bates credited the senior leadership for lifting up teammates after a 2-1 victory over Texas City in the first round.

After the game, Bates told Port Arthur Newsmedia that the players felt like they could’ve played better.

The coach said her team got nervous.

“The seniors took that heading into the second match and you couldn’t see any nerves from them,” Bates said. “They showed how they can lead this team to success.”

While PNG will lose five valuable seniors, the Indians will return 10 players next year.

Bates said the team’s 5-1 victory over Nederland, the 2-1 win over Fulshear in the second round of the playoffs and their 100th goal of the season, which came against Memorial, are her top-three moments from the season.

Bates said this season helped the underclassmen realize how high the standard is for the program.

“I think the undefeated district championship, the level of play and the playoff run were crucial, not just for this team’s success, but that area game up in the stands,” Bates said. “That little girl in the stands might be on a future team. I think the whole team displayed what we are striving for. We still want to go to state. That is what we are striving for, and we will push and scratch and keep climbing until we get there.”