The Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team doesn't get many chances to host visiting teams, so this weekend the Crimson Bears will get an overdose of home games as they host two teams for five games total.
Juneau, which opened its season last weekend with a pair of 7-0 victories, hosts the Wasilla Warriors for three games and the Colony Knights for two. These will be the season's first games for both Wasilla and Colony, who have had limited opportunities to practice outdoors because of lingering snow in the Mat-Su Valley.
The weekend's action opens at 7 p.m. tonight when Juneau hosts Wasilla at the Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park football field. On Friday, Juneau hosts Wasilla at 6 p.m. and Colony at 8 p.m. And Saturday's action opens at 11:30 a.m. with Juneau hosting Wasilla and concludes with Juneau hosting Colony at 3:15 p.m. The Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team will play an exhibition game at 1:15 p.m. Saturday against a local adult/alumni team. Juneau will only have two other home games the rest of the season, next weekend when Ketchikan comes to town.
"Everybody's going to be playing this weekend, except those who are injured," Juneau girls co-coach Colin Barton said. "We'll be putting out different combinations and using the whole of our roster."
Juneau hosted both teams last year, sweeping two games from Wasilla (4-0 and 5-0) while losing 3-2 and tying 2-2 against Colony. The Knights took second place in last year's inaugural state tournament, losing 7-1 to Service in the championship game, while Wasilla didn't qualify for state.
Both Colony and Wasilla will bring young rosters to Juneau, which also has several freshmen it's working into its lineup.
"We lost four or five seniors," Colony coach Lorie Miner said. "We've got an excellent group of incoming freshmen, and with a few veterans we should have a pretty good team."
Colony's team will be led by senior fullback Anna Best, but seniors Sam Gatto and Brooke Thomas will not be making the trip. Other key players include junior midfielders Katie Williams and Kelly Quinn, freshman goalkeeper Julie Coston, freshman fullback Christa Caldwell and freshmen midfielders/forwards Teresa Hill and Kristina Klapperich. Colony only lists 12 players on its travel roster, so depth may become an issue.
Wasilla doesn't have any freshmen on its travel roster, but it does have six sophomores and four juniors on its 15-player travel squad. Wasilla coach Tony Jensen said the team will be led by junior striker Christie Hayes, senior midfielder Kristen Wien and sophomore goalkeeper Melissa Wallace.
"We've got six players who didn't come on the trip last year," Jensen said. "We're pretty inexperienced. We've got six sophomores, and we're definitely a lot younger."
The two Mat-Su Valley teams, which are based just five miles from each other, haven't been able to use their grass fields because of water run-off from the lingering snow. For example, Wasilla has had just one outdoor practice, on a parking lot, and has yet to set foot on a regulation soccer field this season. Most of his team's practices have been in the gym.
The Valley teams are looking forward to getting some games in on Juneau's new artificial turf, which has been playable since the Crimson Bears opened practice on March 12. Juneau's artificial turf is similar to the turf at the Anchorage Football Stadium, which is where this year's state tournament will take place on May 24-26.
"We'll be pretty good in a small space, but when we get out on the full-sized field we may have problems with timing and endurance," Jensen said. "We're just happy to have an opportunity to play a good team. Last year we were able to use these games as a springboard into the season, and we tied Juneau later in the season when they came to our place."
Barton said Colony requested this weekend's games in Juneau because of how bad the fields were up north.
"It's wonderful the opportunity our new field has given us," Barton said. "We're looking to use these as practice games and give some of our younger kids, who lack experience, some game experience."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.