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Bears start slow, finish strong

Posted: May 26, 2011 - 8:54pm

One down, two to go for the Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer team in its bid to repeat as state champs.

The No. 2-seeded Crimson Bears overcame a slow start against No. 7 Colony to take their opening round match 3-1 and advance to the semifinals against West Valley at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 2011 State Soccer Championships.

“I think we were a little nervous at the start,” Bears coach Gary Lehnhart said. “We missed on a lot of passes, but at least we kept it in their end.”

Lehnhart said the team was having trouble getting into the flow of the offense. A through ball from Nathan Fosket to Rhett Bennett in the 15th minute resulted in the first score of the game, and the Bears wouldn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

All season long the Bears have generally built off the first score of the game, oftentimes grabbing momentum and turning one goal into multiple opportunities in a short period of time. But Lehnhart said that wasn’t the case on Thursday morning.

“We went through about a 10-minute stretch there where we didn’t play very well after the first goal,” he said. “That’s a little disappointing because after we score, we tend to pick it up a little bit.

“We didn’t do that.”

But a late first-half goal off a set piece really gave JDHS the boost it needed. Senior Riley Paul took control of a ball bouncing around in the box and drilled it, Lehnhart said.

That goal put the Bears up 2-0 at the break, and JDHS eventually broke it open in the second half when Andy Lawson capitalized on a Jackson Lehnhart throw-in, putting the ball in the net to make it 3-0.

“We were a little nervous (Thursday), but as the game went on we just got more confident with it,” Lawson said. “We’re probably going to do a lot better in the upcoming games.”

Colony got its only goal with about five minutes left to play after Lehnhart had pulled some starters, especially those who were dealing with injuries. Most of the concern lies in the status of senior midfielder Nathan Fosket, who was injured in a head-to-head collision during Thursday’s win. Fosket missed more than a month last season after suffering a concussion, so Lehnhart said he’s being extra careful.

“If he’s not good tomorrow, that’ll hurt us,” he said. “We need him.”

The Bears had 18 shots on goal in the game, while the Knights managed only four. Goalkeeper Taylor Lehnhart had saves on all four of the Knight’s shots on goal.

Next up for the Bears is West Valley, a side they have not seen this season. But the seniors remember last year’s matchups with the Wolfpack.

“We did really well against them last year, and I think we’ll do just as well this year,” Lawson said.”

West Valley and Juneau-Douglas square off today at 5 p.m. at Dimond High School.

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