Another day, another blowout win for the Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer team.
The Crimson Bears broke open a 1-0 lead at intermission, scoring four goals within the first 20 minutes of the second half to take a 5-0 victory over visiting Ketchikan on Monday evening at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Since Juneau-Douglas returned from its trip to Washington — during which they went 0-3-1 — they have yet to surrender a single goal in five in-state games.
“We’re playing well. It’s clear if you watched the game, though, there’s room for improvement,” Bears central defender Peter Jorgensen said. “In all of these games we’ve started out a little slow and weren’t moving the ball as well as we’d liked to, but we picked up the energy a lot in the second half.
“We’re on track, but there’s still some work to do.”
Johnny Joyce got the scoring started for the Bears 22 minutes into the game when he converted on an opportunity created by Jackson Lehnhart. The 1-0 lead would hold for the rest of the half as the Bears couldn’t quite break through the way they have in recent weeks.
“I guess I would agree that it was a slow start, although I’m skeptical of (that),” Bears coach Gary Lehnhart said. “I think the kids came to play. There might have been a little less intensity than we would have liked, but, again, if you just judge it by the ball going into the net, it’s a little misleading.”
Juneau-Douglas soccer fans might have been spoiled by all the resounding wins lately, but Gary Lehnhart said it’s important to realize scoring comes at a premium in this sport.
“I felt like as the (first) half went on we were getting a little frustrated that it wasn’t going in, and at halftime I think we fixed it,” he said. “We regrouped and just got positive again, and we realized it’s hard to score. It’s not an easy thing.”
But the Crimson Bears have made it look easy over the last two and a half weeks, outscoring their opponents 23-0 in the five games they’ve played back on Alaska soil. While the first half ended with JDHS up only one goal, it didn’t stay that way for long. Jackson Lehnhart recorded another assist, this time to Max Smith just five minutes after the break, and Smith would go on to contribute three assists of his own the rest of the way, all within a span of six minutes. Nathan Fosket accounted for one of those goals, while Andy Lawson pitched in two of his own to cap the scoring at 5-0 just 18 minutes after halftime.
But it was the defense that took center stage once again, and Jorgensen earned coach Lehnhart’s player of the game honors for his performance.
“I play with some great defenders in Ben Tamone, Adam Nesheim and Colin Zheng, and Adam Soto gets some time in there, too,” Jorgensen said. “All of us are working well on shutting down the attack and slowing offenses. And just as a team, flanks and center (midfielders) are getting back in numbers and outworking them.
“That’s how we’re keeping it at zero.”
Gary Lehnhart said, despite the lopsided scores, these games are good for his team going forward. This group has yet to play at full strength, and it will only be stronger once everybody is able to dress for games.
“These games are good for us to work on our attack and get more comfortable with each other, and we still are getting guys back,” he said. “I think Rhett (Bennett’s) touches are still preseason touches, so he’s got a ways to go.
“And we can’t forget how much Riley (Paul) means to this team,” he continued. “In some respects, he’s the core. He’s been the center of this group for a long time, and we miss him.”
Juneau-Douglas hopes to have Paul back in uniform for this weekend’s matchups with Service, but only time will tell if the hairline fracture in his fibula has healed enough to allow for his return to the pitch.
The Bears (4-3-2) will host Ketchikan again tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.