It was the seventh consecutive clean sheet for Juneau-Douglas, but it wasn’t the type of match the Crimson Bears boys’ soccer team has come to expect.
It looked like another runaway early as JDHS put its recent stretch of slow starts behind it and exploded out of the gate. The Bears scored two goals in the opening eight minutes of the game, but didn’t score again until tacking on another in the 76th minute to win 3-0 in the second of a two-game Southeast Conference series with Ketchikan at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
The Kings did not lie down in this one, even after the two quick scores. Their defense held JDHS scoreless over the next 68 minutes until Sage Thibodeau received a Max Smith header in the box and put it off his own head into the upper right corner to cap the scoring.
“Coach really wanted more intensity so when I saw my opportunity,” Thibodeau said, “I really wanted to throw everything I had at it to get the ball in the goal.”
Thibodeau said despite getting the win, it was an off day for the Bears.
“We definitely had a lot of shots, but a lot of them were way off target or right at the goalkeeper,” he said. “We were creating some chances, but we started to get frustrated when the shots weren’t going in.”
Juneau-Doulgas started the way it hoped but slowed down drastically after the first 10 minutes. Smith and Rhett Bennett teamed up for the first goal as Smith took advantage of a Ketchikan defensive breakdown and found Bennett, who then ripped the ball to the right of the keeper into the net.
Four minutes later, off an Adam Nesheim throw, Smith got his second of three assists when he set up Andy Lawson for a rebound header in the box.
But the Bears seemed to lack energy after going up 2-0. After creating several early chances, the Juneau-Douglas offense went stagnant and gave the Kings several opportunities to get a goal of their own. JDHS goalie Max Lyons, who only had to make three saves in Monday’s contest, was forced to make nine on Tuesday.
JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart pulled several of his starters in favor of subs to try and generate a spark.
“It was about us not playing with much energy and urgency,” he said. “It wasn’t like a punishment, it was more they just needed to come over and sit down for a while and look at the game from a different perspective.
“Clearly, it just wasn’t working for us.”
The starters returned with about 15 minutes to play and seemed re-energized, but the Bears still had difficulty putting the ball away. Even Bennett, one of the team’s most talented offensive threats, shot the ball right into the keeper’s hands on a few point-blank opportunities.
“We obviously didn’t finish well tonight. I thought we finished poorly, actually,” Lehnhart said. “But you have to give (Ketchikan) credit. Whenever we would beat somebody, there would be someone else there. They made it difficult on us, and I didn’t think we helped ourselves much.
“We did not have the same urgency we’ve had, and I was more bothered by that than the balls not going in the net.”
And Ketchikan’s defense, along with the play of backup keeper Conner Pope, was stingy. The Kings’ strong play in the back gave the attack several chances to score — several balls even hit the crossbar over Lyons’ head during a couple of chaotic plays in the box. But the match ended as yet another shutout for the Crimson Bears. Juneau-Douglas has not allowed a score in its last 560 minutes of play.
Still, Ketchikan coach Mike Medford was happy with the effort his side gave Tuesday evening, especially considering what the Kings were up against.
“We didn’t play pretty soccer and we didn’t really play our game, the way we’ve been practicing all year, but I think the Bears have something to do with that,” Medford said. “Effort-wise, we were much better. We were just a half-step slow (Monday), and we just haven’t faced this level of competition so far this season.”
The Kings nearly held the Bears scoreless in the second half before Thibodeau’s header put the game away for good.
So as Juneau-Douglas moves forward undefeated in state, Thibodeau said it’s important to continue progressing from game to game.
“It was just one of those days — every team has them,” he said. “We just have to look at what we can improve (upon) and just move on.”
The Crimson Bears (5-3-2, 4-0-0) will move out of conference this weekend as they host Service at 6:45 p.m. on Friday and 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, both at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.