The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears boys soccer team took an important first step in defending their third straight state soccer championship on Thursday with a 4-1 win over the Colony Knights at that state tournament on Chugiak High School’s pitch.
“The kids played really well,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “We got up on them early, and that is always good to put a team on their heels, and we came out with a lot of energy.”
Senior Johnny Joyce put an early hurting to the Knights, scoring two goals in the first 20 minutes on shots just outside the goal box.
The front line, led by senior Darien Stanger, of the Crimson Bears was able to get loose through the game. Junior Jackson Lehnhart broke free and put an assist ball across to Joyce for the first goal.
Sophomore Nick Stewart broke free with a ball and laid it across for Joyce who whacked in the second shot.
Leading 2-0 after the first half the Crimson Bears wasted little time putting the third goal in the net.
Lehnhart found himself in a race with the Knights goalkeeper for a ball passed by Stewart, and chipped a shot over the keeper’s head into the corner for 3-0.
Colony scored 10-minutes later on a free kick that lifted over the JDHS wall and dipped into the corner.
Lehnhart broke loose again in the final minutes and looped a pass to Stanger who buried the final goal.
The Crimson Bears only gave up one goal on a free kick, which shows how well seniors Adam Soto, and Colin Zheng led their teammates in the back defensive zones.
“You need to have your central players play well in a tournament,” Lehnhart said. “And all our central players down the middle played well.”
Lehnhart was also pleased by the bench play. All 18 Crimson Bears found time on the pitch.
“Everybody contributed,” Lehnhart said. “To see those kids play in a game like this and get some of the jitters out will only help them tomorrow.”
The first game of any single elimination tournament is nerve-wracking.
“When you have the history against you there will be nerves,” coach Lehnhart said. “I was afraid that if we lost our kids would think the season was not a success. They had a lot to lose today and out of all our games this year, clearly, you could sense the relief after this one. They were nervous. For a lot of them this was the first time they have played a game of this magnitude.”
The Crimson Bears now play West, a 2-0 winner over West Valley.
JDHS defeated West 3-0 earlier in the year in a high-wind game at Adair Kennedy Field that did not do justice to any of the athletes of either side.
“It was that day in Juneau when the wind was blowing sideways,” Lehnhart said. “The game was so much controlled by the weather. I don’t think it was a good reflection of their team. It will be a big stage tomorrow for the boys.”
Lehnhart also stated that the Crimson Bears may have lost senior midfielder Heston Allred to a hyper extended knee. Allred is a major player through the middle and will be evaluated today.
The ASAA committee awarded the season’s Sportsmanship Awards to players at the beginning of the game this year. Allred and Zheng received that honor. Jackson Lehnhart was awarded the Player Of The Game.
The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears girls found themselves in an unfamiliar position, trailing 3-1 at the half against South Anchorage.
“We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole in the first half, but we came back,” JDHS girls coach Matt Dusenberry said. “We got the last goal scored on us while trying to get a tie.”
Just before the half Rebekka Ord had taken the ball past the defense and was in a one-on-one situation with the South keeper when she was fouled.
Ord converted the penalty kick to make it 3-1 at the half.
“We came in with more energy in the second half,” Dusenberry said. “We were pressing them a little bit.”
One JDHS shot ricocheted off one goal pole across to the other but just would not cross the line.
The Crimson Bears scored with seven minutes remaining as Sid Browning put a pass to Rebekah Badilla.
Trailing 3-2 the Crimson Bears had a couple opportunities to tie the game but not enough time.
“We made it interesting,” Dusenberry said. “The South coach came over and said that the one thing you can always guarantee is Juneau teams are not going to quit and we made a match out of it.”
The Crimson Bears will face Service today at 11 a.m. at Chugiak High School. The Cougars lost to Dimond 3-0.
“I think the girls want to get a result tomorrow so they can play three matches at the state tournament,” Dusenberry said. “We are hoping to be on the Dimond field on Saturday for the fourth place game.”
State Tournament Sportsmanship Awards went to Anna Gregovich and Krista Thomson. The Player Of The Game for JDHS was Solana Ashe.
Opening day state tourney scores:
Girls - West Valley def. Kenai 3-1 OT, Soldotna def. Grace Christian 2-1, Dimond def. Service 3-0, South def. JDHS 4-2.
Boys - West def. West Valley 2-0, South def. Wasilla 2-1 OT, JDHS def. Colony 4-1, Dimond def. Homer 2-1.
Consolation games today at Chugiak High School.
Girls - 11AM Service vs. JDHS, 3PM Kenai vs. Grace Christian.
Boys - 1PM Wasilla vs. Homer, 5PM West Valley vs. Colony.
Semi-Finals today at Dimond High School.
Girls - 11AM Dimond vs. South, 3PM West Valley vs. Soldotna.
Boys - 1 PM Dimond vs. South, 5PM West vs. JDHS.
Saturday at Dimond High School:
Girls - 8AM (4th/6th place game), 1:30AM (3rd/5th), 3:15 Girls Championship game.
Boys - 9:45 AM (4th/6th) 1:15PM (3rd/5th), 5:45PM Boys Championship.