The Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team received terrific contributions off its bench to defeat Chugiak 3-0 on Thursday.
With starters Jessy Post, Rochele Rodman and Lindsey Kato all out due to injuries, a number of reserves stepped up to help keep the Crimson Bears unbeaten this season.
"The players off the bench stepped up beautifully," JDHS co-coach Colin Barton said. "Brittany Lehnhart got the hard hat for her hard work. She did exceptionally well. Lindsey Collins did well, indeed. She's a frail lass but she didn't back down. Michaela (Goade) played a couple different positions, and Clarissa Suson is a little kid but she's a really intelligent player."
The reserves gave JDHS (5-0-1) a solid defensive presence, as the Crimson Bears earned their fourth shutout this season.
On the year, the Crimson Bears have scored 28 goals while conceding just two.
"Defensively we played very well again," Barton said. "I thought we were solid defensively."
After a scoreless first half, the Crimson Bears asserted themselves defensively.
The team played with more poise and patience after halftime, taking defenders off the dribble and making smart passes to open space.
Margaret Sekona put JDHS ahead 1-0 in the 54th minute, when she powered in a pass from Sarah Christianson. Six minutes later, Sekona and Christianson joined forces again for a goal. Sekona beautifully evaded two defenders on the left side and crossed, where Christianson swooped in for the goal.
"Her pass to Sarah was lovely," Barton said. "You could just see it with her head up and the cross. I was very pleased."
Sekona added an insurance goal with one minute left in regulation. Defender Talisa Rhea deftly played a long, probing ball down the middle of the field to an awaiting Sekona. The striker calmly flicked the ball over the charging keeper for the Bears' third goal.
Rhea, playing central defense, provided a spark on both ends of the field.
"She's an athlete, that's a good word to use," Barton said of Rhea. "She can create."
Defensively, goalkeeper Kayla Walton made three saves for the shutout as the defense limited Chugiak's opportunities.
In the first half, the Mustangs played very well in the midfield as neither team created much offense.
Chugiak committed seven to eight players back and maintained possession, while the Crimson Bears struggled to find their offensive groove.
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Juneau-Douglas adjusted well after halftime, however. The team held the ball a little longer, forcing defensive Chugiak to challenge. When the Mustangs did attack, it opened up the sidelines which allowed JDHS to get its dangerous wing backs a chance to run.
"I think in the second half we played a lot quicker, a lot more together," JDHS defender Kirstin Jorgensen said. "We worked on moving the ball around, controlling it, playing to our people instead of just panicking and kicking the ball away.
"We linked our passes in the second half and were able to score goals, which is good."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org