Juneau-Douglas opens season in sunny, snow-free California

Crimson Bears split two games on road trip

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007

Heavy snow may still blanket the fields of Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, but not those in California.

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The Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team opened its season in beautiful, snow-free San Francisco on Wednesday with a 1-1 tie against University of San Francisco High School.

The Crimson Bears followed up Thursday with a 4-1 loss against Davis.

"It is wonderful," Juneau's Brittany Lehnhart said. "It's gorgeous weather and it's so nice to run here and not be in a stuffy, humid gym."

Due to Juneau's historic snowfall, the Crimson Bears have been confined to practicing in the JDHS gym in preparation for the upcoming season.

While the enclosed space can help players maneuver in tight corners, soccer is played on a much larger field where long passes and deep crosses are the norm. Naturally, Wednesday's game on a college field took some adjustment.

"When we showed up, it was a university field and we were in awe because it was huge," Lehnhart said. "It was not that much bigger than Adair, but it looked so different. When we got running, it took us a little while to get in the whole groove of things."

On Wednesday, Juneau trailed 1-0 at halftime before Margaret Sekona scored off Sarah Christianson's pass to seal the draw.

"For the first time out, I liked what I saw," JDHS co-coach Sandi Wagner said. "We have some work to do - making our passes shaper and crisper to the wings, making our crosses go farther because we haven't had time to. But for the most part, I liked what I saw."

On Thursday, JDHS fell to Davis 4-1.

Freshman Nia Maake scored the Crimson Bears' lone goal.

"They've been playing for two months here and are in their season," JDHS co-coach Colin Barton said of Davis. "They are better than any team we will meet in Alaska. The kids did well."

"Lehnhart is playing very well," Wagner said. "She's taking over the defensive middle. I'm impressed with her play."

This is the first time the JDHS girls traveled south for games.

They'll finish their road trip Friday with a game against Granite Bay outside of Sacramento.

"The kids have been wanting to do it for a couple years," Wagner said. "The boys have been doing it for years but it's a little more difficult for girls because most of the teams down here play in the fall. ... We got it put together."

JDHS will open its conference season next weekend at Ketchikan.

As for a home game, that'll be determined when the snow leaves the field. Adair-Kennedy remains covered after months of consistent snowfall. When the snow gets removed will likely determine when the home soccer season may start.

"We're in limbo right now," Wagner said. "We've had a problem with snow until the middle of March before but this is a new treat for us."

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.

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