Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer players didn't meet expectations in the season's first games.
They blew them away.
The Crimson Bears - despite a near-complete turnover of starters from last season - beat Mount Spokane 3-2 on Friday and tied Mead 1-1 on Saturday. With victories over University and Ferris earlier in the week, Juneau finished the season-opening with a 3-0-1 record.
"I'm a bit shocked," Crimson Bear coach Gary Lehnhart said. "I never expected them to be this together; I expected the learning curve to be a little steeper than it has been.
"They surprised me. ... The kids had the right attitude this weekend."
Under sunny skies and with temperatures hovering around a balmy 70 degrees Saturday, Juneau and Mead remained in a scoreless tie at halftime. The Crimson Bears scored first when junior Ian Brinkman hit a corner kick to the far post and senior Nathan Schroeder knocked it in.
But Juneau wilted a bit under the heat, and the Panthers tied the game in extra time - the 81st minute - on a header off a crossing pass.
"We were running out of gas today," said Lehnhart, whose team played four games in four days. "We just couldn't hang on in the end."
Sophomores Jamaal Bailey and Kabil Seesan had some good shots for the Crimson Bears, and Schroeder prevented a Mead score in the first half by making a bicycle kick to clear the ball off the goal line.
On Friday, Mount Spokane got on the board first in the 17th minute when a Wildcat player intercepted a Juneau goal kick and got off a powerful shot. The game remained 1-0 at halftime.
Juneau tied it up in the 51st minute. Schroeder headed the ball toward the goal and the Mount Spokane goalkeeper tipped it away, but Bailey was waiting at the far post and knocked the ball into the net.
Bailey got an assist in the 58th minute, when he lofted a corner kick to junior Cheyenne Sanchez for a score to make it 2-1 Crimson Bears.
Three minutes later, Brinkman committed a foul in the box and Mount Spokane got a penalty kick. Juneau sophomore goalie Matthew Walton saved the kick, but Mount Spokane scored off the rebound to tie the game at 2-all.
Brinkman helped the Crimson Bears regain the lead two minutes later. He made a cross pass to junior Nick Ellenbecker, who tapped it ahead to Dylan Ashe for the go-ahead goal.
Late in the game, Mount Spokane's offense got past Juneau's defenders on a breakaway, but Walton made a save on a point-blank shot.
The Crimson Bears will play their first home games of the season this weekend with the "Spring Fever" tournament. Juneau will play Chugiak on Friday and Palmer on Saturday.
The Crimson Bear girls will open their season at the same event. Juneau will host Chugiak, Palmer and Pagosa Springs, Colo.
The girls games will start on Thursday.
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