GROVES — Any other PN-G soccer tournament entry would call Thursday’s victory a small step but Port Arthur Memorial more likely would consider this a giant leap. Port Arthur Memorial always has been the other school around here that has been a soccer school but without anywhere near the success of either Mid-County school. The Titans have piddled at soccer, never advanced to 5A post-season notoriety and have starved for recognition. Yet on the opening day of the three-day Port Neches-Groves boys tourney, Memorial held its own for a half and then relied on two second-half goals from its tall captain Saul Carillo to defeat perennial 4A playoff entrant Little Cypress-Mauriceville 4-1. Host PN-G also earned a 4-1 opening win over Hamshire-Fannett in mid-30 degree early morning temperatures. Last year’s area 4A champ Lumberton defeated Beaumont Central 3-1 and Nederland completed the agenda by walloping Vidor 6-0. Today’s schedule features Vidor against Hamshire-Fannett at 9 a.m.; Lumberton against Nederland at 11 a.m.; Port Arthur Memorial and Beaumont Central at 1 p.m.; PN-G and LC-M at 3 p.m. How big was Memorial’s victory over LC-M? It’s too early in the pre-district season to know for sure. But it’s bigger for third-year head coach Brian Morgan than it is for Carillo, lanky goalkeeper Oscar Pulido or any of their teammates. “It’s big for our program,” Morgan said. “I don’t know if it’s really that big to the kids. They don’t know as much about how good LC-M has been in soccer but I do. I appreciate how good LC-M has been in soccer around here for a long time.” It can be argued that Memorial did not play exceptionally well or that LC-M had a bad game, either. It’s a case of Memorial upgrading in the last couple of years under Morgan. Memorial (2-1-1) seemed to realize it could hang with the thicker Bears by early in the second half. A bit of an early gift enabled Memorial’s Fernando Pulido to score the game’s first goal about five minutes into the game. When Memorial’s defense struggled to clear the ball, LC-M tied the game with 12 minutes left in the opening half off a rebound shot. Memorial retained the edge permanently (2-1) in the second half’s 14th minute on a goal by Brian Gonzalez with an assist from Juan Zepeda. That’s shortly after the point when Morgan shifted the talented Carillo to the right midfield. Saul scored two goals in those final 15 minutes with help from Alejandro Damian on one breakaway and another on a volley when Saul looped a 30-yard shot into the net. Nederland 6, Vidor 0 Nederland scored five first-half goals and leaped out to a 3-0 advantage just 12 minutes into this Thursday rematch of the Bulldogs’ 1-0 victory on Tuesday night. The Dogs (6-4-1) received two goals by Jordan O’Neill, two by Garrett Raines and one apiece by Bay Callaway and Jordan Landry. Nederland blanked its four opponent in the last five games with typical stellar goalkeeping from senior Tyler Vidrine. “I don’t think the score is indicative of the difference between these teams,” NHS coach Rob Bledsoe said, praising the ability of Vidor’s players. Vidor kicked off to start the afternoon’s final game yet Nederland had a goal 22 seconds into the outing. O’Neill took a cross from Austin Wyble and made his first shot. Callaway’s rebound of a Jake Kemp shot made it Nederland 2-0 in the eighth minute and O’Neill bumped it to 3-0 in the 12th minute with an assist from Callaway. Raines received a Michael Roebuck assist for a 4-0 lead in the 22nd minute. Landry followed up Callaway’s corner kick with eight minutes left in the half. The lone second-half goal came when Raines scored off a throw-in from Landry. Port Neches-Groves 4, Hamshire-Fannett 1 Tanner Worley put the game away with two unassisted goals in the last 10 minutes as tourney host PN-G busted loose from a 2-1 edge and defeated Hamshire-Fannett in the opening game of the tournament. Trevor Hoffpauir took an assist from Matthew Morrell to double PN-G’s 1-0 halftime lead earlier in the second half. Hamshire-Fannett answered with a goal by Tommy Bertrand with 15 minutes to play. Each team was sluggish in the cold early weather Thursday morning and PN-G (4-4-2) was ahead at half 1-0 thanks to a goal by Peter Zimmerman in the 18th minute. Zimmerman followed up on a shot from five yards outside of the box. Freshman goalkeeper Micah Murdoch collected five saves for the Indians. Lumberton 3, Beaumont Central 1 Lumberton broke free from a 1-1 deadlock with 15 minutes to play and got second-half goals by Taylor Granato and Mark Murrill to outlast a determined Beaumont Central squad. Granato also scored the lone first-half goal for Lumberton while Ernesto Alvarez responded to tie the game for Beaumont Central.
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