The weather wasn't very springlike, but the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team still played like it was in midseason form at last weekend's Spring Fever tournament.
The Crimson Bears posted an undefeated 3-0 record during the tourney at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. After opening with a 4-1 victory over the Wenatchee (Wash.) Panthers on Thursday, Juneau closed out the tourney with a 1-0 victory over the South Anchorage Wolverines on Friday and a 4-0 victory over the Skyview Panthers of Soldotna on Saturday.
"It was fun," said senior midfielder Nick Ellenbecker, who won Juneau's lunchbox award Saturday for coming to work during the game. "I kind of liked that it was snowy, and I'm really glad these teams came up to play us. We had a strong feeling of team, one for all and all for one."
"I'm pleased with our effort," Juneau boys coach Gary Lehnhart said. "There were some surprises, but I thought we did pretty well for this early in the season. We did come together nicely."
In Saturday's game, the defending state runner-up Crimson Bears' offense kept the ball in Skyview's zone most of the game to dominate a rematch of last year's state tournament semifinal game, which Juneau won 2-1.
Skyview's Matt Stalnik, who was one of the two goalkeepers to make last year's all-state tournament team (the other was current South goalkeeper Eamonn Smith, who was with Service last year), did his best to keep the Panthers (0-2 overall) in the game. But the Crimson Bears (3-0 overall) scored four times before Stalnik was pulled in the game's 61st minute and then took a position in the field.
"We're missing four key players from last year, two moved and the others graduated," Stalnik said. "They filled key positions for us, and Juneau just took advantage. They earned it. But I think this helped us a lot. We still have two feet of snow at home."
Carlos Cuellar, a senior striker who is an exchange student from Bogota, Colombia, scored Juneau's first goal in the game's ninth minute on an assist from junior midfielder Jamaal Bailey. Juneau made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute when junior midfielder Eric Gullufsen scored an unassisted goal off a Skyview defender. In the second half, Bailey scored in the 47th minute on an assist from Cuellar, then junior striker Dylan Ashe scored in the 61st minute on an assist from junior midfielder Kabil Seesan to make it 4-0.
"It went well," said Bailey, who showed up Friday wearing a cast on his foot as an April Fool's Day joke on Lehnhart. "It was nice having all these teams here. It was a lot of fun."
Junior goalkeeper Eli Wray earned the shutout as Juneau's defense allowed few Skyview attacks. Juneau could have scored several more goals, but Stalnik made nice saves on two shots by Bailey and other saves on shots by Ashe and Seesan. Sophomore Matt Walton, who usually plays goalkeeper, got to play in the field Saturday and he had one shot sail just an inch over the top crossbar and another shot that clanged off the left goalpost.
"I normally like the goalpost, but this time I hated it," Walton said.
The Crimson Bears also dominated play in Friday's game, keeping the ball in South's defensive end about two-thirds of the time. But Juneau didn't score until the game's 75th minute (high school games are 80 minutes), when Cuellar beat two defenders and scored on a feed from Ashe for the only score. Walton earned the shutout in goal for Juneau.
"I was trying hard. I just did my best," Cuellar said. "We were waiting for an opportunity."
"There's room for improvement, but we kept it at zero," said senior defender Mark Rainery, who earned the lunchbox award. "The defense was nice and Matt did a good job in goal."
The game was the first official game in South's history, as Thursday's 2-0 scrimmage victory over Skyview didn't count for in either team's record since it was the first time both teams had practiced outdoors all season.
"It was our first official game, and it was a good result," South coach Mike Montgomery said. "I'm still learning names and I played a lot of kids out of position."
The Juneau junior varsity went 1-1-1 against the South JV over the weekend, losing 1-0 on Thursday, winning 2-0 on Friday and tying 0-0 on Saturday. Andrew Flansaas and Dominic Smith scored the two Juneau goals in Friday's game.
In Saturday's other boys varsity game, South Anchorage and Wenatchee played to a 2-2 tie. Adam Snyder scored on an assist from Juan Mendoza to give Wenatchee a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute, but South countered in the 14th minute as Oscar Tobacia scored the first official Wolverines goal in school history on an assist from Will Zeigahn.
Wenatchee (1-1-1 overall) took a 2-1 lead with two minutes left in the half as Oscar Mejia scored on an assist by Alvaro Morales, but South (0-1-1 overall) tied the game in the 72nd minute on a penalty kick by Zeigahn.
"Yesterday (Friday's loss to Juneau) was a really tough game," Tobacia said. "We were really even. I enjoyed it and I was glad to play outside. It was fun."
"I want to play Juneau again," Wenatchee's Josh Snyder said. "We were awake since 2 in the morning (Thursday). The first day, the temperature was cold."
"They've got good players," Mejia said of the Crimson Bears. "Juneau reminds us like when we played Lewis and Clark in Spokane."
In Friday's other varsity game, Wenatchee beat Skyview 2-0. Jeremy French scored Wenatchee's first goal on an assist from Josh Snyder and a run up the middle. Mendoza was credited with Wenatchee's second goal, even though Skyview coach David Carpenter listed it as an own-goal.
The Crimson Bears head to Spokane this week for their annual trip to Washington state. The Juneau varsity opens its four-game road trip against Central Valley on Wednesday, then faces Ferris on Thursday, Mount Spokane on Friday and Mead on Saturday.
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