As the final minutes ticked off the clock of Monday afternoon's girls soccer game between the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears and the Colony Knights, things weren't going well for the Crimson Bears.
Juneau was down to 10 players after losing one to a red card and the Crimson Bears had lost the momentum with a late goal by the visiting Knights. But Juneau had two things going in its favor -- the Crimson Bears owned the lead and time was ticking off the clock.
Even though the Knights took three corner kicks in the game's final two minutes and had two good runs on goal by Sianna Garrod, the Crimson Bears held on for a 3-2 victory in Juneau's home opener at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
"We had a good beginning, but we panicked toward the end," said Juneau defender Liza Slotnick, who turned away several runs on goal by the Knights in the game's final 10 minutes.
"We had our opportunities," Colony senior midfielder Kelly Quinn said. "They only had 10 players and we just kept moving everybody up on offense. We had nothing to lose."
The two teams will play again at 2:30 p.m. today at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Juneau gets a day off after today's game, then hosts Wasilla at 7 p.m. on Thursday and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, closing out a string of six games in eight days.
Monday's victory gives Juneau a 3-0 overall record, coming on the heels of the Crimson Bears' weekend sweep in Ketchikan on Friday and Saturday. Colony fell to 0-1 overall with the loss.
The Crimson Bears fell behind early, giving up their first goal of the season just five minutes into the game when Quinn came up the middle and headed in a pass from the right sideline by Kristina Klapperich.
"I just headed it in," said Quinn, who added that she was surprised to score on the play. "I think the goalkeeper (Juneau starter Courtney Wetzstein) must have thought it was going out of bounds the way she kind of let it go."
The Crimson Bears missed several early scoring chances as they sent passes across the mouth of the Colony goal and didn't have anyone ready to knock the ball home. But Juneau was dominating the midfield area and the Crimson Bears finally seemed to get their passing touch figured out.
Juneau equalized the score in the 22nd minute as Greta Thibodeau scored on a long shot from the middle. Erin Flynn was credited with the assist and Sarah Croteau started the play when she intercepted a Colony pass and sent it up to Flynn.
The Crimson Bears took a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later when Thibodeau scored her second goal of the game, knocking home a pass from Crystal Barr that appeared to deflect off a defender before reaching Thibodeau for the shot.
"We treated it like it was 0-0, and we kept pushing forward," said Thibodeau, who missed last year because of a broken left leg. "We're getting some good one-on-ones out of our midfielders. I'm feeling good. My leg's healed and I think I made both shots with my left foot."
Juneau added an insurance goal early in the second half, as Croteau scored four minutes in on an assist from Flynn. Croteau knocked the ball home from the middle a crowd of defenders, making it 3-1 Juneau.
The two teams exchanged runs on goal over the middle of the second half, with both defenses turning the plays away from the goal before they could get too dangerous.
But with 14 minutes left in the game, Garrod took a pass from Quinn in midfield, then split Juneau's defense and deked out backup Juneau goalkeeper Erin Cottingham for a Colony goal.
"Kelly gave me a great pass," Garrod said. "It was just placement."
With 10 minutes left in the game, Juneau got loose on a breakaway and three players converged on Colony goalkeeper Julie Coston as Juneau's Krista Heard took a shot. Even though she didn't make contact with Coston, the referee decided Thibodeau had been too aggressive in her run on goal and gave her a red card. Thibodeau was ejected from the end of the game, with no replacement, and she will have to sit out today's game.
Even though they were down a player, the Crimson Bears still had a couple of good runs on Colony's defense. But as time went on, the Juneau players appeared to get tired and Colony picked up its momentum. Over the last few minutes of the game, Garrod made two dangerous runs on the Juneau goal before Slotnick or Flynn slid in to knock the ball away at the last minute. Colony also took three cornerkicks in the final two minutes, but Juneau's defense held.
"I'm excited we won, but I guess I'm sitting tomorrow," Thibodeau said.
"We did a good job, until we got kind of tired at the end." Flynn said.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
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