After each varsity game, Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer coach Gary Lehnhart hands out an award - the "lunchbox" - to the player who came most prepared to work on the field.
After Friday night's 9-0 win over Homer at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, Lehnhart found it impossible to single out the efforts of just one Crimson Bear - so he recognized everyone.
"I never gave out a team lunchbox before, but that's what I came out of this weekend with," he said after the game. "When we came into this weekend, we weren't playing well (as a team). It was a a lot of individual stuff, and that has changed."
Lehnhart said it was more than just the number of goals - Juneau also beat Homer 8-1 on Thursday - that pleased him. It was the teamwork - the number of crisp, accurate passes - that led to the scoring.
"What you saw tonight and last night were goals ... that were set up," he said. "We earned a lot of goals."
In Friday's game, Juneau (5-3) got on the board in the fifth minute when senior Kirk Mearig - one of the Crimson Bears' defensive stalwarts - headed in a corner kick from senior Lee Sullivan.
Sullivan made it 2-0 Juneau in the 10th minute when he sank a penalty shot past Homer goalie Taber Webb after Homer was called for a handball in front of its goal.
In the 16th minute, senior Kalon Wright came down the left side and worked around several Homer defenders before putting in an unassisted goal from about five yards out. Three minutes later, Mearig scored his second goal of the game - and third of the series - by heading in another corner kick from Sullivan.
In the 31st minute, the Crimson Bears strung together a nice sequence of passes for a goal. Senior Kyle Thibodeau launched a shot from Juneau's end of the field up to junior Nathan Schroeder, who passed it off to senior Hiroto Yanagisawa. Yanagisawa came up the middle and drew Webb out from the goal, then passed the ball off to the right to senior Axel Thibodeau for the score to make it 5-0 at the half.
In the 42nd minute - the second minute of the second half - senior Matt Fosket hit a pass from the left corner that made it all the way across to senior Chris Frank in the right corner. Frank then centered the ball into Axel Thibodeau, who headed the ball into the net.
Five minutes later, Fosket scored from the left side of the goal off a pass from Frank to make it 7-0 Juneau.
Schroeder headed in a ball off a free kick from senior Joe Stendahl in the 61st minute, and Frank scored off an assist from sophomore Ian Brinkman in the 80th minute to close out the scoring and the game.
Homer threatened on offense several times, but Juneau's defenders and its two goalkeepers - senior Colin Conerton in the first half and senior Woody Groves in the second - preserved the shutout.
After the game, the players echoed Lehnhart's sentiments.
"It's a lot of fun playing with guys like these," Frank said. "There is no star; everyone is getting goals. That tells you a lot about the team."
Sullivan credited Lehnhart and the coaching staff for making the Crimson Bears a more cohesive unit.
"We've been playing together for five or six years, but as a coach he's really helped bring us together as a team," he said. "You could see it on the field. ...
"When you play as a team, good things come."
Homer coach Ed Kelly said the Mariners were disappointed after a tough loss to Ketchikan on Saturday, but said that overall they appreciated getting valuable playing experience this weekend. The Mariners have not been able to practice outside in Homer due to wet fields.
"We have two tough region games next weekend," he said. "Had we not had this trip, we probably wouldn't have been on a field until those games kick off."
The Crimson Bears next play in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley on the first two weekends of May. Juneau's next - and only remaining - home games are on May 16-17 against Ketchikan.
Juneau JV 4, Ketchikan 0
The Crimson Bears' junior varsity squad shut out the Kings' varsity team on Friday morning at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Kayhi was in town to get in a couple of games while Homer was visiting.
Juneau got goals from Richard Isett and Ian Brinkman in the first half, and Dylan Ashe and Eric Gullefsen in the second half.
Ketchikan 4, Homer 3
The Kings squandered a 3-0 lead, then scored in the last 10 minutes to defeat the Mariners in a hard-fought game.
Ketchikan's Conner Pihl scored goals in the second and 15th minutes, and Josh Schultz made it 3-0 Kayhi with a goal in the 29th minute.
Homer's Brady Boone scored in the 32nd minute after teammate Nate Riedel knocked the ball away from Kayhi goalie Jon Demmert.
In the second half, the Mariners' Wes Busby broke away and beat Demmert in a one-on-one situation for a goal in the 58th minute. Homer tied it two minutes later when Llosh Winne beat Demmert to a loose ball and scored.
Ketchikan's Jens Jorgensen scored in the 74th minute; his shot, from about 25 yards out, hit the left goal post and bounced in. Demmert fended off several late Homer charges to give the Kings the win.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.
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