The Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team dominated Friday night's game against the Chugiak Mustangs.
But the Crimson Bears couldn't find the net as the defending state champions suffered a 1-0 loss at Anchorage Football Stadium, falling to a team that didn't even qualify for last year's state tournament.
It was Juneau's first loss in 364 days (3-2 to East Anchorage on May 4, 2001), a 16-game winning streak that earned the Crimson Bears their first state title and spots in two national polls.
Juneau (10-1-0 overall) is ranked sixth nationally in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll released April 22, and that same week was in the unranked second-25 of the Student Sports Inc. spring soccer Fab 50 rankings. The Crimson Bears are no longer nationally ranked in the Student Sports Fab 50, but they are ranked No. 6 in the magazine's West Region listings this week. The next NSCAA poll won't be released for another week or two.
"The streak is over," Juneau coach Gary Lehnhart said. "For the way it happened, I kind of expected something like this. We dominated them. We outshot them 20-something to two. But when it got to the second half and we'd missed a few opportunities, I started thinking, 'You know what, this is going to be one of those games.' The goal we gave up was really kind of an own-goal."
Chugiak (2-2-2) scored in the 65th minute, 25 minutes into the second half, when Justin Taylor knocked in a rebound of an indirect free kick for the game's only goal.
Chugiak's Brian Jones was fouled on a drive to the net and teammate Jon Novotney took the indirect free kick from about 22 yards out. Novotney's shot hit Juneau's defensive wall, bouncing off the legs of a couple of Crimson Bears and right to Taylor, who sent it between Juneau goalkeeper Zuriel Ebron and a sliding defender into the right corner of the net.
"I saw a hole in the wall and hit it there," Novotney told the Anchorage Daily News about his shot. "It ping-ponged, ping-ponged, ping-ponged and it dropped on Justin's feet, and he just fired it in."
Lehnhart said Chugiak goalkeeper Andy Coy did a good job keeping the Mustangs in the game, even though Juneau was in Chugiak's defensive zone much of the game.
"There's an expression that there's such a thing as a good loss," Lehnhart said. "I've never really bought into it. But it will be interesting to see how we react to this. It's so hard to go undefeated in soccer."
Lehnhart said some of the players were struggling to deal with the added pressure of the rankings. This was Juneau's first road trip north since the polls came out, so there was more media attention than normal since this is the first time an Alaska team has been nationally ranked. Lehnhart said some players told him after the game it had been hard to warm up because an Anchorage television station was pulling players and coaches aside for interviews.
Juneau was missing its top defender, senior Collin Daugherty, who has been out five games with a deep thigh bruise. The Crimson Bears also struggled on offense for the third straight game. Juneau has outscored its opponents 33-4 this season, but only 5-3 on the three-game road trip to Anchorage.
"We didn't finish," Lehnhart said. "We haven't had the same sense of urgency since we played Ferris (of Spokane, Wash., on April 19-20). We definitely need Collin back, especially on our set pieces. He's a core guy back there for us."
Juneau will head back to the Anchorage area this coming weekend for three games. Juneau will play at Wasilla High School at 6 p.m. on Thursday, at Palmer's Colony High School at 6 p.m. on Friday and against the undefeated Service Cougars at noon Saturday at Anchorage Football Stadium.
The Crimson Bears close out their regular season with a pair of home games against Ketchikan on May 17-18 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, only the third and fourth home games of the season for Juneau. Juneau needs to have at least a tie in the two Ketchikan games to earn a return trip to the state tournament, which is May 23-25 at Wasilla High School.
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