The Juneau-Douglas High School boys’ soccer team discovered that the target painted on their backs from the success of Crimson Bears teams that played before them is a pretty big and bright insignia for opponents to key on.
“I told the guys they have the target on their backs,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “And they did not necessarily put it there, but it is there. Dimond was really quite motivated and enjoyed taking it to us a little bit, even when we subbed and changed the nature of the game, they did not.”
The two-time defending state champ Crimson Bears succumbed to the Dimond pitch game, dropping a well-played match 5-1 to the Lynx (11-0) on Wednesday night.
“They didn’t romp over us,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “But they did beat us pretty good. We put up a fight for a good portion of the game.”
Senior Darien Stanger notched the Crimson Bears lone goal. Dimond is the top team in the Cook Inlet Conference.
Dimond’s Travis Merritt and Jack Sedor each netted a pair of goals and Austin Portch one to power the undefeated Lynx in the nonconference win. Dimond led 3-0 at the half.
Juneau then found it self in a dog fight with the Colony Knights, a team they defeated in state quarterfinals last season and, although they prevailed, they lost senior midfielder Johnny Joyce to a questionable red card in the second half.
The Crimson Bears scored the first goal of the game at the 10-minute mark. Joyce played a beautiful pass to classmate Darien Stanger who killed a shot from the top of the box. The Lynx scored 10 minutes later on a counter attack through the pitch. Senior forward Jackson Lehnhart scored at the 30-minute mark on a nice header for a 2-1 lead.
“That is how the game was playing,” Lehnhart said. “We were possessing the ball and had it in their end most of the game. Then they would quickly send it long when they got it. We were having some trouble with that early.”
There was other trouble on the field as well. The Colony coach got into a verbal brawl with the officials at halftime and was ejected from the game. His players then began a physical game on the pitch and were called for penalties.
“The whole game just kind of disintegrated from there,” Lehnhart said.
The referees began a series of yellow cards against Colony.
“I was really proud of my guys,” Lehnhart said. “They were keeping their heads and staying out of it.”
At the 65-minute Joyce was given a straight red card on a typical soccer foul and sent to the bench. The Crimson Bears had to play short a man for the last 15 minutes of play. JDHS gave away some forward presence by rotating Jackson Lehnhart down from the top to the middle and locked down outside players. Stanger and freshman midfielder Nick Stewart continued to be the attacking presence and the Crimson Bears played a controlling ball movement that, although exhausting, was a talented display of soccer that gave them the win.
“It was stressful,” Lehnhart said. “Everyone was asked to do a little bit more.”
Due to the red card infraction Joyce will have to miss the Crimson Bears next game, a match against Chugiak tonight.
“I was really proud of Johnny,” Lehnhart said. “He didn’t argue. It is just unfortunate because you only get some many high school games and it is disappointing to see one taken away like that.”
JDHS plays Chugiak tonight and Bartlett on Saturday.