The Juneau-Douglas boy’s soccer team spent the past few days on the pitches of some of the Seattle and Spokane area’s best high school soccer teams in their annual three-game road swing in Washington.
On Wednesday the Crimson Bears (3-1-1) played against the Seattle King Co 4A conference’s Roosevelt High School Rough Riders (7-1-1). The King Co league is the strongest in Washington State.
“They were the best team we have played,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “They may be the best team we will face all season.”
The Rough Riders scored in the first minute of action, catching the Crimson Bears off guard and forcing them to play on their heels the rest of the way.
JDHS found themselves struggling to keep up with Roosevelt’s pace and possession of the ball, yet they only trailed 1-0 at the half.
The Rough Riders got a gift goal starting the second half when Crimson Bears’ senior goalie Max Lyons slipped on the wet turf and Roosevelt found the net.
The opposing coaches commented that field conditions were not ideal and neither team found fault with the score’s occurrence.
The Rough Riders followed that with a penalty kick score and a late netter to make the final 4-0.
Crimson Bears senior center back Colin Zheng was awarded the JDHS Lunch Box award for the contest.
“Even though the score was 4-0 our defense played well,” Lehnhart said. “Colin was one of the main reasons the score was not more. He played really steady defense in the middle and made it difficult for them.”
On Thursday the Crimson Bears tied 1-1 with another King Co Conference team, Seattle’s Issaquah High School Eagles (5-2-1). Ironically, Issaquah had beaten Roosevelt just days earlier, taking the Rough Riders out of the unbeaten ranks.
The Crimson Bears scored in the 23rd minute when senior Johnny Joyce found the net unassisted.
Juneau-Douglas kept the lead until the final three minutes when the Eagles tied the score. Neither team got a good look for the tiebreaker as time expired and since the Crimson Bears were playing four games in four days, the tie stood and no extra time was played.
“They were clearly a good team,” Lehnhart said. “We were just hanging on. We were fortunate to be in that situation.”
Max Lyons received the Lunch Box award, compiling 13 saves across the net mouth.
“He really was the difference,” Lehnhart said. “We probably should have lost that game but he was very strong. He played very well.”
Friday saw the Crimson Bears take a day off and practice with Spokane’s Ferris High School Saxon soccer team.
The teams got a chance to experience the work out advantages of both clubs and both coaching staffs were complimentary of the work ethic of the Crimson Bears, especially of senior Adam Soto.
The Crimson Bears’ final game on the pitch was against Coach Lehnhart’s former team, Spokane’s Mead High School Panthers.
The Crimson Bears took a 4-3 decision over a Panthers team that still has the competitive drive Lehnhart left behind in his final season of 1990 and headed to Juneau.
“Mead was where I used to coach so this trip is always fun,” Lehnhart said. “To go up against those guys, and they always host us and set up these trips.”
Johnny Joyce scored in the 20th minute on a long distance shot that got through the Panthers’ keeper.
Mead scored five minutes later to knot the score at 1-1.
Crimson Bears’ senior Jackson Lehnhart turned just outside the box and scored shortly after to put JDHS back on top 2-1 at the half.
Joyce scored his second goal of the match 17 minutes into the second half unassisted and five minutes later Adam Soto headed a pass to Lehnhart who knocked in his second goal and a 4-1 advantage.
Mead tallied two goals in the last six minutes.
“We held on,” Lehnhart said.
Crimson Bears junior Stuart Thurston was given the Lunch Box for the match.
“He played fantastic,” Lehnhart said. “All weekend long.”
Lehnhart commented that, although filled with seniors, this season’s Crimson Bears are in fact inexperienced.
“To go 1-1-1 is good, very good for this group,” Lehnhart said. “We have a ways to go but we did some positive things. We defended well. Our attack was inconsistent, we relied mostly on Johnny (Joyce), Jackson (Lehnhart) and Darien (Stanger). We didn’t build a sustained attack all weekend so we have some work to do there. But I got to see lots of kids and it was a good start. Max (Lyons) played really well all week in goal and Adam (Soto) played well all over the field. We got a lot of good minutes out of all the kids. It was a good start, we have a long way to go but we have something to build on. The guys are feeling like they have a good chance to compete.”
The Crimson Bears will have five days to get ready for the Ketchikan Kings. The JDHS boys and girls teams will play the Kings at Adair Kennedy on Thursday and Friday. The Thunder Mountain girls will play Ketchikan Friday at Falcons Field, and the Thunder Mountain boys will play Sitka Friday and Saturday.