Local high school soccer fans better not blink, they might miss the season.
The Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls soccer games will be wrapping their home schedules this weekend, and for the boys this weekend is their home schedule.
The Crimson Bears boys and girls will each be hosting two teams -- Wasilla and Ketchikan -- for games Thursday through Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
The weekend opens on Thursday with the Juneau boys junior varsity hosting the Ketchikan varsity at 5 p.m., followed by the Juneau boys varsity vs. Wasilla at 6:45 p.m. The Wasilla and Ketchikan girls close out Thursday's action at 8:30 p.m.
On Friday, the Ketchikan and Wasilla boys open play at 11 a.m., then the Juneau varsity girls play a double-header with Ketchikan at 4 p.m. and Wasilla at 5:45 p.m. The Juneau boys varsity team closes out the day with Ketchikan at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday opens with the Juneau girls and Ketchikan at noon, the Juneau boys and Wasilla at 1:45 p.m., the Juneau and Wasilla girls at 4 p.m., and the Juneau and Ketchikan boys at 5:45 p.m. There will also be a barbecue from 1-3 p.m.
``Yeah, there's lots of soccer,'' Juneau coach Gary Lehnhart said. ``I guess we talked about bringing them up on separate weekends, but later we decided this was the best way to do it. This weekend is important in determining which of us (Ketchikan and Juneau) qualifies for the Region V spot in the state playoffs. In many respects, our games with Ketchikan Friday and Saturday are the most significant games of the season.''
For the Juneau boys, this weekend is the only time they get to play another varsity team in front of their home fans. The Juneau girls hosted Colony last weekend for two games, but this weekend is the last time they will be at home, too. After this weekend, if local soccer fans want to watch the Crimson Bears they better be prepared to shell out some cash to follow Juneau's trips in May to Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley and, provided the teams qualify for state, the Kenai Peninsula for the new state tournament May 25-27 at Skyview High School.
``I don't think our preparation is any different for home or road games,'' Lehnhart said. ``But the different excitement level is obvious for home games. The games become more meaningful when your family and friends can watch you play. But for coaches, we still prepare the same way for road games as we do for home games.''
The Juneau boys (2-1-1 this season) will be trying to build on the success of their road trip to Spokane, Wash., April 5-8, where the Crimson Bears played four of the top teams in Spokane. On that trip, Juneau junior Justin Dorn scored seven goals and added an assist to move to within three goals of the team's scoring record. Juneau hasn't played a high school varsity team since, although the Crimson Bears scrimmaged with an alumni team last weekend.
``We feel pretty good with what we've done,'' Lehnhart said. ``We'd like to demonstrate what we've got. The boys love to play. They'd much rather play than practice.''
While Dorn has been dominating Juneau's scoring early in the season, Lehnhart feels the Crimson Bears have more firepower than he's ever seen before. Lehnhart said sophomore Robert Lossett has drawn a lot of attention from opposing defenses, which has opened up room for Dorn to use his ``tremendous nose for the goal in creating scores,'' Lehnhart said. But there are other guys contributing to Juneau's offense, even the defense.
``Matt Wetzstein is someone who could break out soon, and so could our outside mids (midfielders),'' Lehnhart said. ``Our ability offensively is impacted by the way our defense sets up the attack, and our defense has been doing a pretty good job. Jer Gleason and Troy Choquette have been leading the defense.''
Lehnhart said the Juneau boys know a little bit about Ketchikan, since the Juneau JV split a twogame series in Ketchikan April 7-8 when the Juneau varsity was in Spokane. In that two-game set, Ketchikan won the opener 5-2 as junior Ryan Harney scored three goals in the second half and Juneau took the second game 2-0. Ketchikan (1-1) is in its second year as a varsity program and is coached by Wayne Kinunen. Lehnhart said the Crimson Bears know even less about the Wasilla Warriors, who are coached by former Palmer standout Blake Livingston.
``I don't know much about Wasilla but I think they'll be improved now that they have a new athletic director and a new coach,'' Lehnhart said. ``They were improved last year and I think Blake will start to build a program there.''
Last weekend the Juneau girls (2-1-1) hosted Colony, which is expected to be a state power this year, and lost the first game 3-2 and tied 2-2 in the second game. In both games, Juneau outshot Colony and controlled the middle of the field, but the Knights scored four of their five goals on headers after corner kicks or indirect free kicks. The Crimson Bears said this week's practice sessions have been geared toward correcting last week's costly mistakes.
``We've been working on headers,'' Juneau junior Michael Kohan said.
``Everything we did wrong, that's what we've been working on,'' Juneau junior Chelsea Walden said. ``We just want to play our best this weekend. We don't want to drop down to their level, where we kick the ball to Nowhereville.''
The Crimson Bears have been among the state's elite girls teams in recent years, but Ketchikan is a first-year varsity program and Wasilla has never been a dominant team. Juneau junior Angela Regalbuto said Juneau will expand its rosters this weekend so there are two lineups that combine some JV and varsity players.
Juneau swept a pair of games from Ketchikan April 7-8, winning 12-0 and 7-0 in the first girls varsity soccer games in Ketchikan's history. Juneau senior Krystle Llanto scored eight goals in the two games in Ketchikan and added two more in the Colony series for 10 goals total. Juneau freshman Liza Slotnick had five goals in the Ketchikan series, while sophomore Erin Flynn and senior Hannah Slotnick both have two goals each this season.
Ketchikan, which is coached by Melissa Virtue, was supposed to travel to Canada April 13-15 for games against Canadian high school teams, but no results were available. No record was available for Wasilla, which is coached by former Wasilla High boys standout Tony Jensen, but the Warriors did beat Houston 6-0 on Tuesday as Christie Hayes scored three goals and goalkeeper Lesa Starr posted her third straight shutout against some of the smaller schools in Southcentral Alaska.
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