The offense may not have been clicking Saturday, but the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team's defense played brilliantly to blank Service.
The Crimson Bears (7-0-1) defeated the Cougars 2-0 on Saturday and 7-0 on Friday to extend their winning streak to six games. JDHS won its last three games via shutout and hasn't allowed a goal in 218 consecutive minutes of play.
"What I'm happy about (Saturday) is one of our biggest priorities in the beginning of the year is to change our defensive mentality," JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. "Especially for a day like this when you struggle a bit. Soccer is funny. You can come out and give an incredible effort and create a lot of opportunities and the ball doesn't go in.
"On a rough day offensively, our defense was stellar."
Juneau-Douglas created multiple scoring chances, but a blazing shot or strong header also seemed to miss the target.
With the ball not doing what the Bears wanted it to do, the team fell back on what it could control - defense.
Center fullback Zach Farrington aggressively challenged the Cougars, foiling a number of Service rushes before they could evolve into something more dangerous.
Wing backs Tuavao Maake and Nathan Ord held down their sides of the field, effectively reducing goalkeeper Sam Post's role into a spectator.
"Zach did everything he needed to today," Lehnhart said. "He was to be commended. And I thought Tuavao and Nathan Ord gave good performances as well."
Blessed with bountiful offensive talent, Lehnhart said he wanted his team to commit to defense. In practice prior to the season, Lehnhart instituted a new rule to make sure his team got the message - give up a goal in practice and everyone runs a mile.
Since then, Juneau's allowed just five goals all season with five shutouts.
"You could see the culture change," he said. "We started taking pride in putting up, as we say, clean sheets."
Juneau went up 1-0 in the eighth minute off a terrific play by Colin Flynn and Sam Greely. Flynn trapped and passed the ball with his chest to Greely, who in turn blasted a shot past Jareth Thomas for a goal.
The score remained 1-0 at halftime as the shorthanded Cougars gained confidence.
Playing without five players, including four starters due to suspensions stemming from a senior prank, Service struggled to find its footing after Friday's rout.
On Saturday, however, the Cougars played a more defensive game and improved as Saturday's game progressed.
"A lot of it was we just realized we can play a bit with them," Service coach Dan Rufner said. "We tightened up."
Service hung around but Juneau put the game away in the 68th minute. Off a terrific leading pass from Vincente Alinson, striker Dominic Smith dribbled all the way into the goal to close out the scoring.
On Friday, Juneau-Douglas put on an offensive exhibition in a 7-0 win. The Bears scored six goals in the first half en route to their biggest win this year.
"Last night's offensive performance was pretty amazing," Lehnhart said. "We played fast, skillful, we had some beautiful goals, lot of combinations and really unselfish play. It's really what you want."
Isaac Stark scored twice in the game's first 10 minutes, followed by two goals from Smith.
Aaron Badilla and Ky Clark ended the first half's scoring with goals in the final five minutes. In the 60th minute, Greely scored off of Flynn's assist.
Greely had two assists in the win while Smith and Farrington had one each.
JDHS will head to Anchorage for four games starting Wednesday. The trip concludes with Saturday against South Anchorage in a rematch of the last two state title games.
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.