On a cold day that featured snow, hail, rain and fog, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team caught fire in its season opener.
The Crimson Bears claimed a 4-1 victory over the Wenatchee (Wash.) Panthers in Thursday's first day of the Spring Fever soccer tournament at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
"I thought we had a really strong first half," said Juneau junior striker Dylan Ashe, who scored a goal and had an assist while earning the team's lunchbox award for being ready to go to work during the game. "It was our first game, so there are a lot of things we need to work on."
The Crimson Bears (1-0 overall) dominated the first half of play, making several runs that were stopped by Wenatchee junior goalkeeper Tristen Ryles.
But Juneau didn't score until the game's 25th minute when Brian Smith, a senior midfielder who had just entered the game two minutes earlier, scored on an assist from Ashe. Two minutes later, Smith scored again on an assist from freshman midfielder Colin Flynn.
"I was just trying to hustle, and my teammates were cheering me on," Smith said. "The second goal was really the icing on the cake. This was my best game in high school so far."
"He (Smith) came out really strong," Ashe said. "Those goals set the tone of the game."
With a 2-0 lead, the Crimson Bears continued to keep up the pressure later in the half. Ashe scored another Juneau goal in the 33rd minute, connecting on a semi-bicycle kick off an assist from senior defender Levi Wanstall to give the Crimson Bears a 3-0 lead at halftime.
"We felt confident. We had the home crowd," said Juneau junior goalkeeper Matt Walton, who played the first half while junior Eli Wray took over in goal for the second half.
Wenatchee (3-2 overall) finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth minute of the second half as junior midfielder Juan Mendoza made a run down the left side and scored on an assist from senior forward Oscar Mejia to make it 3-1 Juneau.
The Panthers played a stronger second half, taking more shots on Wray than they did on Walton in the first half. But Wray and the Juneau defense were able to turn them away. The Crimson Bears added an insurance goal with six minutes left in the game when junior midfielder Kabil Seesan scored on a rebound of a shot by junior midfielder Jamaal Bailey.
"We had hail, rain and fog, all since we got here this morning," Wenatchee junior defender Dan Weist said.
"I've never been this cold," Ryles said, as Ashe mentioned another Wenatchee player told him it had been 70 degrees today.
In early action Thursday, the South Anchorage junior varsity boys beat the Juneau JV 1-0 on an unassisted goal by Travis Bond. In an afternoon scrimmage that didn't count in either team's record, the South Anchorage varsity boys beat the Skyview Panthers 2-0 as Thor Lindstam scored an unassisted first-half goal and Bryan Bostwick scored on a corner kick from Cameron Richardson in the second half.
Action continues today with Wenatchee and Skyview playing at 2:45 p.m., the Juneau JV and South JV at 4:30 p.m., the Juneau boys varsity vs. South at 6:15 p.m., and the Juneau girls varsity vs. Cheyenne Central (Wyo.) at 8 p.m. Saturday's game schedule can be found in Sports in Juneau.