After cruising to easy wins in their first two games, the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer squad faced a much tougher test Saturday from Chugiak.
They aced it.
The Crimson Bears beat the Mustangs 4-0 in the final game of the inaugural Spring Fever soccer series at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Juneau beat Palmer 7-2 on Friday and - with a 19-0 win over Pagosa Springs (Colo.) on Thursday - completed its season-opening weekend with a 3-0 record.
The only goals the Crimson Bears allowed all weekend were on penalty kicks.
But it was the victory over Chugiak that gave Juneau the most satisfaction.
"This was our best result, the one we had to fight the hardest for," Juneau co-coach Colin Barton said. "They reacted well. I thought we played well throughout the game, and got better the longer the game went."
"They were a lot more aggressive" than previous teams, said senior Nicole Lupro, who scored a goal against the Mustangs. "They were more aggressive than we play. ...
"To go 3-0 right now is awesome. To do it with only two goals scored on us, both on penalty kicks, it says a lot."
Juneau opened its scoring in the 10th minute, when senior Crystal Barr's long shot attempt bounced out of the hands of goalkeeper Keala Kini. Senior co-captain Greta Thibodeau emerged from a swarm of Juneau strikers to knock in the goal.
Saturday's wet conditions - a marked contrast to nice weather earlier in the series - caused keepers to drop balls several times.
The score remained 1-0 at the half, and Thibodeau opened the second half scoring by heading in a corner kick from sophomore Jessy Post in the 47th minute - the seventh minute of the second half.
"Greta has improved her game 110 percent from last year," fellow senior co-captain Laura Flynn said of Thibodeau, who scored eight goals on the weekend. "She's aggressive and gets to the ball."
In the 59th minute senior Alida Bus got a good shot at a Chugiak clearing pass, and sank a shot from about 35 yards out to put Juneau up 3-0.
Six minutes later, Flynn made a crossing pass with a free kick from the right side, and Post took a shot from the left. Post's shot hit the right post and bounced out, but senior Nicole Lupro was waiting and drilled in a shot to close the scoring.
Juneau had several more scoring chances; freshman Sarah Christianson broke away for a one-on-one in the 36th minute, but was stopped by Chugiak goalkeeper Annie Frost, also a freshman.
Chugiak coach Dan Pinkerton said his team wanted a win, but he was pleased with the chance for improvement the trip afforded.
"It was a great opportunity to come down, play, have a great time and look at a lot of what we're trying to work on as a team," he said.
In other Spring Fever games, Chugiak beat Pagosa Springs 7-0 on Friday - Julie Whitacre had a hat trick for the Mustangs - and Palmer beat Pagosa Springs 7-0 on Saturday. The Juneau JV girls beat the Juneau Soccer Club Xtratuffs 2-1 on Saturday.
The Juneau varsity (3-0-0 overall) gets just one day of rest before heading to Ketchikan for games on Monday and Tuesday - the first two of a four-game series that will determine the Southeast berth at the state tournament.
The Kings started their season with a six-game road trip to British Columbia and finished with a 4-2 record. This year's team has 20 players - a high for the program - and is led by its co-captains, senior midfielder Emily Willett and junior goalkeeper/midfielder Katie Geldaker. Willett and junior Rachel Schuerger each scored three goals on the B.C. trip.
Juneau 7, Palmer 2
Alida Bus scored a pair of goals as the Crimson Bears built a 5-0 lead at halftime and sailed to victory over the Moose on Friday.
Juneau opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Greta Thibodeau made a pass straight up the middle to a running Nicole Lupro, who scored with a grounder. Two minutes later, Jessy Post scored from about 20 yards out.
After going quiet for 20 minutes, the Juneau offense came alive when Bus launched a shot for a score from about 35 yards out - very similar to the goal she would score the next night against Chugiak.
"Kendri made a really nice pass to me (and) there was opening," Bus said. "I dribbled up and felt like shooting."
Three minutes later, Palmer goalkeeper Tara Harrington swatted away a Post corner kick, but Juneau's Tasha McKoy was right there to knock in the score. Bus scored her second goal of the game in the 38th minute off a corner kick by Monica Daugherty.
Five minutes into the second half, Talisa Rhea headed in a corner kick from Post, and Thibodeau closed out Juneau's scoring six minutes later by knocking in the rebound of a shot by Kendri Cesar, who helped control games all weekend from her midfield spot.
Felicia Sandvik beat Juneau goalkeeper Erin Cottingham on a pair of penalty kicks to get Palmer on the board, but Cottingham made a nice save on a high free kick from Sandvik in the 79th minute to keep Juneau's five-goal lead intact.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.