The Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team was fighting to protect a one-goal lead for most of Saturday afternoon's game against the Colony Knights.
But then Juneau scored an insurance goal with nine minutes left in the game, and the Knights fell apart as Juneau scored three more times in the game's final five minutes to claim a deceptively lopsided 5-0 victory over the defending state runners-up at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
That victory helped Juneau gain a split with Colony, which claimed a 2-1 victory over the Crimson Bears on Friday night. Juneau also a split-squad team to earn a split with the Wasilla Warriors, claiming a 1-0 victory on Friday but dropping a 3-2 decision on Saturday. Earlier this weekend, Juneau blanked Wasilla 5-0 on Thursday.
In Saturday's victory over Colony, Juneau scored a goal in the game's 15th minute as sophomore Callan Janowiec knocked a deflection from Colony goalkeeper Julie Coston into the net for an unassisted goal. Then it was all the Crimson Bears (5-2-0 overall) could do to protect the slim lead.
Juneau senior Ella Magallanes missed a penalty kick in the 15th minute of the second half that could have given the Crimson Bears some breathing room, and it took a miracle save by sophomore goalkeeper Amy Henderson with about 11 minutes left to preserve the shutout and 1-0 lead.
Henderson had sprawled to one side of the net to make a save, but the deflection landed on the foot of Colony junior Kelly Quinn, who is perhaps the Knights' most dangerous player. Quinn lifted a high, arching shot toward the back of the net, but the diminutive Henderson (who is about 5-foot-2) was able to get to her feet and punch the ball over the goal's top crossbar.
"That was the play of the game," Henderson said. "I was very happy."
Two minutes later, Magallanes took a shot on Coston, who deflected the ball to Janowiec, who took a shot that Coston couldn't quite wrap up and Magallanes was able to pick the ball loose and knock it into the net for a 2-0 lead. That goal seemed to be the spark Juneau needed.
"That second goal was what we needed," Janowiec said. "We had a new mindset and brand new energy after that. It gave us insurance."
"I just had to keep kicking it in," Magallanes said. "I was tired until that goal, then I could breathe again."
Four minutes later, Janowiec scored her second goal of the game after freshman Crystal Barr brought the ball down the right side of the field and crossed it to her in front of the net. A minute later, Janowiec scored on a breakaway after junior Erin Flynn lifted a high pass over the Colony defense. A minute after that, Barr was the beneficiary of a similar breakaway goal on a pass from Flynn.
"I was looking for the forwards and hoping to get the ball up to them," Flynn said. "It was nice to have some strong games. We were able to give everybody an opportunity to play. We played so good and we got to show the home crowd how we can play, especially since we're on the road so much."
"We stayed with it," Barr said as the Crimson Bears outshot Colony 16-7 for the game. Colony fell to 1-1 with the loss.
Earlier on Saturday, a Juneau split-squad team of some varsity players mixed with several junior varsity players dropped a decision to Wasilla even though the Crimson Bears outshot the Warriors 14-6. Christie Hayes scored twice to lead the Warriors (1-2), who scored their first three goals of the season.
Hayes opened the game's scoring with an unassisted goal in the 29th minute, on a play set up by Kelsey Myrvold before Hayes dribbled the ball around a defender. But Juneau tied it with four minutes left in the half as freshman Laura Flynn scored on an assist from junior Krista Heard. Hayes made it 2-1 in the 13th minute of the second half when she scored on a direct free kick, then Wasilla took a 3-1 lead midway through the half when Kim Cottle scored on an assist from Kristen Wien on a play set up by a long run by Hayes.
"We've got a long way to go," Hayes said. "We gave it our all today. Yesterday was kind of a bad game for everyone. We had to get that first goal, we had to get a goal."
Juneau scored with nine minutes left in the game to make it 3-2, as Heard scored on an assist from freshman Nicole Lupro on a play set up by a run from senior Michael Kohan. But Juneau couldn't convert on a couple of scoring chances late in the game to tie the score.
"I think we were a little tired, and we weren't communicating on defense," Laura Flynn said. "We gave them a good fight, though."
"That first goal caught us off guard," Heard said. "I think this was a good practice, especially for our JV players. We need to work on our conditioning."
On Friday night, Juneau outshot Colony 16-8 for the game and 10-1 for the second half but still fell to the Knights, who had a couple of other good second-half scoring chances turned away by sophomore defender Liza Slotnick.
Colony took a 1-0 lead when Sianna Garrod scored on an assist from Kelly Quinn five minutes into the game, but Juneau countered four minutes later as Magallanes scored on an assist from Janowiec. A minute later, Janowiec got loose on a breakaway with only Coston to beat, but Coston came out of the net and made the save. Garrod scored the game-winner 25 minutes into the second half, when she scored on a corner kick from Kristina Klapperich.
"Everyone had to work hard," Garrod said. "We've had five practices, and they've all been muddy."
"It was a well-played game by both teams," Coston said.
Janowiec said the loss was a good lesson for the Crimson Bears.
"We learned a lot from the loss. I think we learned more from the loss than we would have if we'd won," Janowiec said. "Their goalie did a good job."
"I think we had as many chances as they did," Juneau senior Kristen Bressette said.
Earlier Friday night, Juneau barely escaped with its victory over Wasilla.
Juneau took a 1-0 lead when senior Michael Kohan scored an unassisted goal off a steal with one minute left in the first half. Wasilla had what appeared to be the game's tying goal off a cornerkick just before the final whistle, but the referee waved off the apparent goal because the ball hit out of bounds once before spinning back onto the playing surface, where Cara Hesselbach knocked it into the net after Hayes took the cornerkick.
"I think it was so in," Hesselbach said of the waved-off goal. "We were hyped up for it."
"It was a frustrating game," Kohan said after Juneau outshot Wasilla 13-4 but only scored once. "In the first half we were working together, but in the second half our midfielders got tired and started standing around."
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Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.