The Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer team doesn’t need to score much with all the shutouts it’s posting these days.
Midfielder Riley Paul — recently back from injury — sent a through ball to forward Rhett Bennett, who put it away to give the Crimson Bears a 1-0 lead over Service in the first two minutes of the match. That was all they needed in a 4-0 win on Saturday at cold, rainy Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Juneau-Douglas continued to move the ball well and the defense shut down the opposition’s attack for its ninth consecutive clean sheet. Aside from an inordinate amount of defensive deflections in the box by the defense of Service that resulted in missed chances, the Bears’ offense cruised throughout after getting another early goal.
“I’m liking those (early goals),” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said.
But this one wasn’t out of reach until late, and Lehnhart said the Service defense deserves recognition for that.
“You have to give them credit. They’re putting themselves in front of the shots, putting a lot of guys back and they made it very difficult,” he said. “We had to fight for every goal.”
Only up 1-0 at the break, Juneau-Douglas got the offense going again in the second half beginning with a deep shot from Peter Jorgensen. The senior central defender lined up a free kick from more than 50 yards away and put it in the corner of the net on what looked to be a confusing play in the box. Sophomore Jackson Lehnhart seemed to attempt a header off the kick but missed, confusing the goalkeeper, who couldn’t get a bead on the incoming ball in the 47th minute of the contest.
Max Smith got on the board a little more than 20 minutes later with a rebound and putback off a Darien Stanger shot on goal, and Jackson Lehnhart ripped a shot with his left foot that bent around the diving keeper and into the lower left corner off an assist from Johnny Joyce.
“Today and yesterday, we did a great job of possessing the ball and made it difficult for Service to attack. That’s the best defense,” Gary Lehnhart said. “But when they do attack, all four of our defenders are just all strong players.”
But the weekend’s matchups also were impressive from another standpoint. The Bears’ defense was able to keep Cody Woodcock, one of Alaska’s most skilled forwards, off the board.
“He’s one of the state’s best players. He’s explosive. To shut him out for a weekend is an achievement for any defense,” Gary Lehnhart said. “I thought Taylor did a good job of communicating. He didn’t have to stop very many, but it’s nice to have him back.”
It was also nice to have Paul back, whose presence in the midfield was immediately felt after his return from a leg injury.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had in a month,” Paul said. “I love playing with these guys and just being out on the field with them, win or lose.
“But of course it’s nice to get those wins.”
As for the team’s future, Paul said it feels like the Bears are starting to play well together at the right time.
“These have been the first two games with everybody back. I think we played really well, moved the ball well and were clicking,” he said. “I think we have room for impovement, but it’s a good start at a key point of the season.”
After the game, Gary Lehnhart presented Adam Nesheim with the Don Ashe Spirit Award, a recognition given out every year in honor of the late Don Ashe.
“In the early years, Don Ashe was one of the pioneers of building soccer in Alaska. The one thing he really added, he recruited teams to Juneau,” Gary Lehnhart said. “He was an ambassador and everybody loved the guy. He tragically died (more than two) years ago, and a lot of people gave some money in his memory.
“Some of that money is used to bring teams here, like Service this weekend,” he continued. “We give this Don Ashe Spirit Award as a way of remembering, not only his legacy, but just the fact that this wouldn’t happen without him.”
Coach Lehnhart also said Nesheim is exactly the kind of player and person who deserved to be given the award.
“We give this award for players who are like Don, and for us that’s Adam (Nesheim),” he said. “He’ll do anything; you don’t even have to ask him. He volunteers and is a friend to all, from the number one player in the program to the number 44 player.
“And he’s a good player, too. He’s a worthy recipient.”
The Bears also sent a small varsity contingent to Sitka where Juneau-Douglas won each game by the score of 2-0, giving them 11 consecutive clean sheets in all.
Juneau-Douglas (7-3-2, 4-0-0) hits the road this week for a tough road swing in Anchorage where it will face Wasilla on Wednesday, Chugiak on Thursday, Dimond on Friday and West Anchorage on Saturday.
Bears take out Service 2-0
Juneau-Douglas continued to keep its opponent off the board on Friday afternoon, and once again it resulted in a win.
Peter Jorgensen scored on a header off a Max Smith free kick, and Andy Lawson tacked on another goal on a Jackson Lehnhart assist in the first 17 minutes of the contest to put the game away.
Given the way the Bears’ defense has been performing, this one was over after the first goal. But JDHS still had some trouble putting the ball away when the opportunities presented themselves.
“We created well, controlled the play, we did everything but finish,” Bears coach Gary Lehnhart said with a laugh. “I can’t fault the way the kids played. They played with high energy and played quality soccer.”
This marked the eighth consecutive game the Bears have kept the opposition’s attack out of the goal.