For the first time in five years, Juneau fans will get to see one of the state's top soccer rivalries on the home turf.
The Service boys will play Juneau-Douglas at 8 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The Crimson Bears beat the Cougars 1-0 in last year's state title game, and Juneau also knocked Service out of the state tourney in 2002.
Unlike Juneau (7-0-1), which saw a near-complete turnover of its starting lineup this season, Service (3-0-1) has a number of experienced players back.
"We have a fair amount of returners," Cougars coach Dan Rufner said. "Pretty much all of our forwards and midfielders (are back)."
Senior Mike Butterworth is a key player at center midfielder - he's had a number of assists this year - and senior forwards Daniel Wilkins and Paul Duffy are also impact players. Duffy is questionable for this weekend with an injury.
Service is rebuilding on defense after losing several key players.
"We expect to get scored on a bunch, but we also expect to score a bunch," Rufner said.
Service still has not had an outdoor practice this season due to a persistent snowpack in Anchorage. Rufner said he expects Anchorage-area teams may get access to a few fields - muddy, but snow-free - in the next week.
The young Crimson Bears are looking forward to the games as another in a series of progress tests this year.
"It's going to be huge," senior co-captain Alex Newton said. "It's to prove to the rest of the state and ourselves how good we can be. It's a huge marking point for our season, to see where we are."
The Juneau junior varsity boys and varsity girls each will host scrimmages on Saturday.
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