The Crimson Bears boys’ soccer team started the season with several injuries to key players, and it’s been trying all year to become cohesive as a unit again.
But Juneau-Douglas looks close to regaining its form as a group, and that’s bad news for the rest of the state.
The Bears rocked the Wolves with an 8-0 victory on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, giving them a two-game sweep of Sitka and the seventeenth clean sheet of the season.
One of the players who missed some time early is senior forward Rhett Bennett, but the team’s most explosive scorer is back to 100 percent and is playing like it. He contributed four more goals on Saturday to continue his hot streak.
“Our offense is really starting to click and we’re increasing the motion. We definitely need that for state,” he said. “We’re going to need to progress even more. We’re all back together, and that’s good, but we need more to get where we want to go.”
As the offense begins to jell, the defense continues its strong play as it prevented yet another team from getting on the board.
“We’ve got a deep pool of players and a lot of guys who can really compete,” senior defender Ben Tamone said. “It’s a little hard to focus against a weaker side, but we keep it strong and keep playing through it.”
The Bears are at their best when they keep the ball moving and out of the opponent’s possession. Senior midfielder Nathan Fosket said it’s important to keep building on recent success.
“Our communication is key. You go through times when it gets kind of tiring out there and we stop communicating. That’s not good,” he said. “A big part of being able to keep the movement requires a lot of communicaton, even when you’re tired.
“We’re not playing to the best of our abilities, yet, but we’re getting there.”
Bennett’s four goals led the way for Juneau-Douglas, with Sage Thibodeau netting two and Fosket and Stuart Thurston pitching in one apiece.
The Crimson Bears have one more match at home this year with Thunder Mountain visiting Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday for Juneau-Douglas’ senior night.
Bears romp 12-0 over Wolves
Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer coach Gary Lehnhart said his team played “uninspired” soccer last week after a game against Thunder Mountain.
It looks like the Bears got the message.
The defending state champions ripped Sitka 12-0 in the first game of a two-match series on Friday evening at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Colin Zheng, Andy Lawson, Sage Thibodeau, Max Smith, Rhett Bennett, Johnny Joyce, Nathan Fosket, Heston Allred, Adam Soto and Nick Stewart all scored in a well-balanced attack for the Crimson Bears.
“We played the right way (Friday),” senior midfielder Riley Paul said. “We had kind of a rough game against Thunder Mountain earlier this week, and I think it was good to play really well today.
“More than the score, it was good to play right.”
Senior Matteus Tempel expounded upon Paul’s sentiment, but also said it was nice for the second unit to get valuable run on the pitch.
“It’s fun to play until you’re tired, and then play some more,” he quipped. “I think the speed of play was also up from the Thunder Mountain game, and our touches were a lot more accurate.”
And, once again, Juneau-Douglas kept a clean sheet for the sixteenth time this season. Senior goalkeeper Taylor Lehnhart always likes to see that kind of result, especially when backup keeper Max Lyons gets time on the field as well.
“It’s good to have another goalkeeper who’s just as capable of coming in and doing the job as you,” he said.
Taylor Lehnhart, who has missed some time this season due to injury, said the depth at the position is something that helps as the state tournament approaches.
“It’s good to feel confident in a guy if you get injured,” he said. “I think we’re getting there. We’re not quite at our full potential, yet, but we’re moving the ball better and our communication is getting better.”