Going into this weekend's games in Ketchikan, Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer coach Gary Lehnhart noted how in the low-scoring sport, the outcome of a match can turn on a single goal.
And that's exactly what happened on Friday night, as the upstart Ketchikan Kings hung close with the veteran Crimson Bears and scored the game's only goal off a corner kick in the 37th minute for a 1-0 win. It was Ketchikan's first-ever victory over Juneau's varsity.
The Crimson Bear boys rebounded with a 4-1 win on Saturday to even the season series - and the race for Southeast's lone state berth - going into the teams' final two head-to-head games of the season in Juneau next month.
Meanwhile in Ketchikan, senior Callan Janowiec scored four goals on Friday to lead the Juneau girls to a 10-0 win, and the Crimson Bears followed that up with a 4-0 victory over Kayhi on Saturday.
In Friday's boys game, Juneau outshot Ketchikan 16-4, but Kayhi goalie Jon Demmert held the Crimson Bears scoreless. In a game last May, Demmert made several great saves as Ketchikan tied then-nationally ranked Juneau, 1-1, even though the Crimson Bears outshot the Kings 29-3 for the game.
"He's got our number," Lehnhart said of Demmert after Saturday's game. "He's really something. He played really well last night and played well again today."
In the 37th minute, Danish exchange student Jens Jorgensen launched a Kayhi corner kick into a fray in front of the net. In the tussle, Ketchikan freshman Connor Pihl knocked the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead that would hold the rest of the way.
Juneau had several good scoring chances in the game. Junior Cameron Mitchell beat Demmert in the 33rd minute, but his shot went just wide. In the 67th minute, senior Alex Sadighi took a shot off a corner kick that Demmert just managed to save - though Juneau players were sure it crossed the goal line.
Lehnhart said another potential goal was called back on an offsides penalty.
On Saturday, Mitchell fed senior Hiroto Yanagisawa for Juneau's first goal in the 14th minute. Sadighi scored in the 25th minute to put the Crimson Bears up 2-0.
Jorgensen scored Kayhi's only goal in the 33rd minute when he looped a penalty kick around a wall of Juneau defenders.
In the second half, at the 63rd minute, senior Axel Thibodeau faked out Demmert and scored on an assist from senior Lee Sullivan, and Mitchell scored again in the closing minutes for the final margin. Juneau outshot Kayhi in the game, 15-8.
Lehnhart said he was pleased with his team's defense - led by Kyle Thibodeau, Kirk Mearig and Joe Stendahl; the play of midfielder Kalon Wright, who matched up with Jorgensen; and the performance of newcomers Mitchell and Sadighi. Lehnhart said the Crimson Bears did a better job of working as a team Saturday.
"All except for one of the goals was the result of combination plays, of trusting each other," he said.
Lehnhart said this year's squad - featuring many seniors but not as experienced as Juneau teams past - is still coming together at this point of the season.
"It's a lot of pressure on kids to come in and immediately think you'll be in the (state) finals," he said, alluding to last year's state runner-up squad. "This year's team has to build its own identity."
For the Juneau girls on Friday, Janowiec scored the first three goals of the game - in the seventh, 11th and 18th minutes. Sophomore Theresa Badilla made it 4-0 in the 21st minute, Janowiec scored again in the 28th minute, and freshman midfielder Jessy Post closed out Juneau's first-half onslaught with a goal from 16 yards out in the 34th minute.
Three of Janowiec's goals were on breakaways.
"Callan had been struggling with breakaway goals all week, but was able to get the monkey off her back," Juneau girls coach Sandi Wagner said.
In the second half, Juneau kept up the attack with goals by freshman Gretchen Dierking (45th minute), senior Olena Lundquist (50th and 54th minutes) and junior Nicole Lupro (61st minute).
Ketchikan never threatened in the first half, and managed just four shots in the second half.
Saturday's game was a little slower-paced; Wagner said the Crimson Bears had fewer fast breaks and more trouble finishing plays. But Juneau pulled out the 4-0 win on a pair of goals in quick succession by Post and freshman Marita Rodriguez in the third minute; a goal from 18 yards out by Alida Bus in the 30th minute; and a second-half goal by Dierking in the 55th minute.
Juneau took 28 shots to Ketchikan's six; the Kings did not offer much challenge to the six Juneau players who rotated in goal through the weekend.
All three of the freshmen playing on Juneau's varsity squad - Dierking, Post and Rodriguez - made offensive contributions in the series.
"All three of them played really well, played hard and controlled the ball well," Wagner said.
"Individually, everyone played well. We're just trying to work out different combinations."
The Juneau girls host Colony for the first home games of the season next Friday and Saturday. The Juneau boys head south on their annual trip to Spokane later this week.
Ketchikan Daily News reporter Nick Firchau contributed to this story. Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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