If the Juneau-Douglas girls’ soccer team had to pick a time to peak in 2011, it would be right now.
The No. 2-seeded Crimson Bears begin their run at the state championship today against No. 7 Colony, and it’s safe to say this group is playing its best soccer of the season. The second overall seed proves that, but it’s not everything, coach Matt Dusenberry said.
“It’s always nice, but sometimes people get too caught up in the seeding,” he said. “At the end of the day, if your goal is to win the state title, you have to win three games. And it starts with taking care of the first game, no matter who the opponent is.”
The Knights are a team Dusenberry’s bunch has yet to see this season, but he knows any opponent at this point in the year will be a challenge. Still, the Bears’ level of confidence is riding high right now after an impressive win over Ketchikan to end the season.
“Hopefully, that bodes well for us in that we can start out against Colony by moving the ball like we did the last match,” Dusenberry said. “It’ll be interesting, assuming we play a good match against Colony and get a win. Then, one would assume we’d be playing South in that event.
“But they have to play West Valley first,” he continued. “It all starts over again, in my opinion, once we start the tournament.”
And it’s a long road to get to that final game with plenty of bumps on the path along the way. Even some of the lower seeds in this year’s state tournament have had more than their share of success during the regular season.
“South (Anchorage) hadn’t lost a game prior to their region tournament, but they’re in our bracket now,” Dusenberry said. “I think you’ve got to look at the fact that Chugiak came out and ended up winning that tournament, and now they’re the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. And, of course, Dimond is the No. 5 seed, and then you always have your unknowns.”
But the task at hand is focusing on the first-round opponent, even though the Bears don’t know much in regard to the Knights’ style of play. However, he acknowledged the three teams for which he has the most concern.
“Colony has a fairly decent record, but we’ve never seen them play. Soldotna, I believe, has only lost one game, but we haven’t seen them either,” Dusenberry said. “But those Anchorage schools — Chugiak, South and Dimond — are three schools that you know you’ll be in a pretty good match when you play them.”
After last year’s loss in the second round to Dimond, the Bears are hungry to erase that memory and play their way to the final game.
In any event, this is the right time to peak. Juneau-Douglas looks like it’s doing just that.
The No. 2 Crimson Bears begin the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 2011 State Soccer Championships today against No. 7 Colony at 11 a.m. at Dimond High School.