It wasn’t a win Saturday morning at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, but Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer coach Gary Lehnhart will take the result.
“You have to (take it),” he quipped. “In some ways, I was more pleased with today than yesterday. Even though we didn’t get the win, I thought we created more and better chances.”
Juneau-Douglas and South Anchorage, two of the state’s top teams, battled to a scoreless draw in a game where the Bears missed on several opportunities to get on the board. Creative passing and strong play down the touchlines had the Wolverines on their heels, but the defending state champions couldn’t put one away to complete the weekend sweep. JDHS stopped South 1-0 on Friday.
Lehnhart said while the chances were there for forwards Max Smith, Andy Lawson, Rhett Bennett and Jackson Lehnhart, South goalkeeper Trent Sanders deserved a lot of credit. He was a force in the box against the JDHS attack.
“He’s a really strong player and I think he got in our heads a little bit,” Gary Lehnhart said. “We were trying to be too perfect because we knew it was going to be hard to beat him.”
On the other side of the pitch, it wasn’t such a great day for Bears goalkeeper Taylor Lehnhart. The senior re-injured his left ankle after colliding with a South forward while making a save. But backup Max Lyons filled in, and the Juneau-Douglas back line was successful keeping the Wolverines’ forwards out of position to do any damage.
Though his performance did not change the outcome of the game on the scoreboard, senior midfielder Sage Thibodeau dominated stretches of the match with his play on the outside. Gary Lehnhart’s system calls for a flank player with plenty of range, and the coach said Thibodeau has just about perfected the position.
“On our team, what we ask the flank to do is almost superhuman,” Gary Lehnhart said. “To be able to do it and not come out very much is something, because he’s covering the most ground on the field.
“He’s having to make these 30- and 40-yard runs at times, and he did it fiercely and with skill.”
Thibodeau said this type of matchup shows JDHS what it’s capable of later in the season.
“South is a really respectable team. They’ll be some of the top competition and we can obviously compete with them,” Thibodeau said. “If we just work on a few things we’ll be really competitive up there.”
The Crimson Bears (1-3-2) are at Thunder Mountain on Tuesday. JDHS began the season last weekend in Washington, where they went 0-3-1. The Bears lost their first game 1-0 to Bellarmine before falling 1-0 to Lake Stevens and 2-1 to Ferris. JDHS closed its season-opening road trip with a 0-0 tie with Mead.
Bears open in-state play with 1-0 win
The Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer team was anxious to get back to work in its home opener Friday, and getting a win over rival South Anchorage was a good way to start the in-state portion of the soccer season.
The Crimson Bears welcomed the Wolverines — one of the state’s top team — to Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park on Friday afternoon, and a Jackson Lehnhart strike from the top of the box was enough to give the Bears a 1-0 victory.
Juneau-Douglas coach Gary Lehnhart said he’ll take the win, but there were some chances left on the field.
“Soccer is a hard sport. We had a lot of chances that were close, but their goalkeeper (Trent Sanders) is excellent and played a very good game,” he said. “He’s part of why we only had one (goal).”
Jackson Lehnhart’s goal came in the final moments of the first half, which created momentum going into the break. Senior forward Andy Lawson found Lehnhart on a well-placed cross from the left side, and the sophomore forward put it away in the lower right corner. Juneau-Douglas kept a hungry South squad from getting the equalizer in the second half.
The Bears said it always feels good to beat South, but Gary Lehnhart cautioned it’s still early.
“In terms of this game, it’s early in the season, and I don’t think the teams played their best,” he said. “We have a ways to go and they have a ways to go, I’m sure, but we competed well.”