A blind draw determined the opening round of the 2013 state high school soccer championships and, unfortunately, the tournament’s two undefeated teams on the season were paired on the pitch Thursday night.
The Colony Knights came back to tie the match in the second half and defeat the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears 2-1 in overtime at Eagle River High School.
“It was really tough,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “It was an absolutely great game though, we played well. We just didn’t score enough, and they did.”
The Crimson Bears found the net first, scoring at the 29-minute mark of the first half as state player of the year Jackson Lehnhart played a through ball to Nick Stewart on a break away and Stewart beat the keeper.
“We played especially well early,” Lehnhart said. “We were moving the ball around well and creating a lot of opportunities.”
In the second half the Crimson Bears were creating opportunities but missing.
“We should have been up two nothing,” Lehnhart said.
Instead, the Knight’s got loose in the corner and Nick Blohm banged in a long crossing shot to tie the score at 1-1 with 25 minutes remaining.
Stewart, Lehnhart and Hoover all missed shots in the final regular time minutes and Ben Scudder was credited for another outstanding defensive game.
“He has been the iron man for us all year,” Lehnhart said. “We never take him out. He is the anchor of the defense. He was really banged around tonight, Colony is a big physical team.”
Lehnhart said he expected the team would face pressure and the Crimson Bears defense and young freshman goalkeeper Hunter Pegues stood up to the challenge.
“They gave up two goals in 100 minutes,” Lehnhart said. “If we had to second guess anything, it was that we had many, many good chances to score that just nicked the post and sailed by. We just couldn’t sneak them past.”
The Knights’ Jacob Spannagel got loose across the top of the box and hit a tough shot for the lead in overtime.
“We scrambled at the end to try and create something,” Lehnhart said. “That was the first time we trailed all season against an Alaskan team.”
Colony closed the game out by sending the ball deep down pitch, forcing the Crimson Bears into long runs back.
“We weren’t quite as good as we would like to be in that situation,” Lehnhart said. “It is hard to artificially produce that in practice so we had to scramble to sort it out. They are a good team though. They are undefeated. It is too bad that is how the draw worked out.”
The Alaska School Activities Association used a blind draw this year, picking the matchups out of a hat, so-to-speak, instead of using a conference or state power ranking.
Ironically, the Crimson Bears had eliminated the Knights in the past five state tournaments.
“The kids played great,” Lehnhart said. “They feel bad right now. We were hoping to make a run at this thing and I think we were good enough, but Colony was better today.”
On the girl’s side, the Thunder Mountain Falcons soccer team lost 5-0 against one of the state’s best sides on the pitch, the Service Cougars. Calls to TMHS coaches were not answered by press time. According to the Anchorage Daily News’ Doyle Woody, Service’s Haleigh Van Allen scored a hat trick and an assist to overwhelm the Falcons. Rachel Juliussen and Madisin Jennings also scored for the Cougars and Trysten Bailey got the shutout.
The Falcons and Crimson Bears still have a chance to play on for fourth place if each wins two games. TMHS will play at noon today against the West Valley Wolf Pack, a 2-1 loser to Colony. JDHS will play at 2 p.m. against North Pole, a 3-0 loser to West. The JDHS and TMHS games will be at Eagle River.