Intercepting passes and goal kicks, scoring off rebounds and ricochets, the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team was omniscience in action Thursday en route to a season-opening victory.
Senior co-captain Greta Thibodeau scored five goals and senior Nicole Lupro added four as the Crimson Bears trounced the Pagosa Springs (Colo.) Pirates 19-0 at the Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park football field.
Throughout the game, Juneau players stayed a step ahead of Pagosa Springs and showed a knack for being in the right place at the right time - positioning themselves to capitalize on scoring chances and create new ones.
"The followup on shots, the alertness on the field was tremendous," Crimson Bear co-coach Colin Barton said. "It was a one-sided game, but we played some attractive soccer."
"Even though our team is young, we have a feel for where the ball is going to be and where we need to be," sophomore midfielder Jessy Post said.
Thursday's match was the first game of the inaugural Spring Fever soccer series, which continues today and Saturday. Tonight, the Juneau girls play Palmer at 6:15 p.m. and the Juneau boys face Palmer at 8 p.m. Each team will play Chugiak on Saturday; for complete schedule information, see Sports in Juneau on Page B2.
Pagosa Springs is a young program in a school much smaller than JDHS, and the Crimson Bears' speed, experience and physical play overpowered the Pirates from the start.
"Juneau's a good team," said Pagosa Springs coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, a former Juneau resident. "They played a lot of one-touch balls, they played physical. They're fast and furious."
"We played smart, we played hard," Thibodeau said. "We played as a team."
The scoring started in the fifth minute when junior Theresa Badilla made a pass up the right side to Thibodeau, who found sophomore Gretchen Dierking breaking in front of the goal for the score.
"I really liked how we worked the ball around tonight," Badilla said. "We didn't panic or try to push the ball to where no one was."
Dierking scored again in the 15th minute when senior Alida Bus's long shot bounced out of the Pagosa goalie's hands - and right to Dierking, who found the far corner.
Senior co-captain Laura Flynn scored on a penalty shot in the 19th minute - putting Juneau up 3-0 - after Pagosa goalie Sierra Fleenor was called for a foul after a collision with Thibodeau in the penalty box.
Three minutes later, Dierking snared a Pirate goal kick and passed ahead to Badilla, who scored to make it 4-0 - and the rout was on.
Thibodeau scored the final two goals of the first half in the 38th and 40th minutes - both by following up on shots that bounced off the crossbar. The first ricochet was off a shot by sophomore Cindy Eriksen, and the second off a shot by junior Monica Daugherty to put Juneau ahead 10-0 at halftime.
"We just followed on all of our shots," Thibodeau said. "It's something we've been working on in practice, and it paid off."
In the second half, Thibodeau scored another goal in the 45th minute - the fifth minute of the half - to put Juneau up 11-0. Lupro scored on a rebound of her own first shot in the 60th minute, and scored again three minutes later by heading in a Post corner kick to make it 15-0.
Two minutes later, in the 65th minute, Post scored off a cross pass from freshman Brittany Lehnhart. Lupro added a penalty-kick goal in the 76th minute after Pagosa Springs was called for a handball in the penalty box.
In addition to the Thibodeau and Lupro goals, the Crimson Bears got three goals from Badilla, two from Post and Dierking and one apiece from Flynn, freshman Sarah Christianson and junior Monica Daugherty. Senior Alida Bus shared credit on one of Thibodeau's goals (team officials weren't sure who touched the ball last, so gave both players credit).
Juneau's midfield - including Post and senior Kendri Cesar - helped keep the ball on Pagosa's side of the field most of the game. When the Pirates did break through, the Juneau back line was waiting.
Pirates freshman Iris Frye made it past several Crimson Bear defenders in the 49th minute - the ninth minute of the second half - but Flynn was there to head off the attempted breakaway before Frye reached the penalty box. Juneau goalkeepers Julie Heard and Erin Cottingham were not tested in the game.
Despite the score, Fleenor - the Pirates' goalie - stopped many more shots than she allowed to pass. Kurt-Mason said she made some of her best saves ever in the game.
Fans were treated to a rare soccer halftime show, as several young students from the Southeast Gymnastics Academy performed a routine on the field.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.