The trip to the Kenai Peninsula and Mat-Su valleys for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team ended Friday and probably not soon enough for the team.
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Wasilla upended the Crimson Bears 2-0 on Friday as bad luck once again haunted the team.
"I told the guys you have to give Wasilla some credit because historically their program hasn't had a lot of great players, and they came out excited," JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. "We've got a big target on our backs, and we've watched some major celebrations."
Juneau-Douglas (8-6-2) has lost five of its last seven games and has been victimized by allowing some freakish goals.
On Friday, Wasilla took the lead in the first minute on an unlucky goal.
In the opening minute, the JDHS goakeeper attempted to clear the ball, but his kick went off the back of a defender and into the goal as the Warriors took a 1-0 lead.
Despite the unfortunate beginning, Lehnhart said he was pleased with how his team responded.
"Actually, I was really proud of the guys," Lehnhart said. "I thought they could have shut it down and say, 'Let's go home.' But we played against the win and we did a good job and didn't let them score."
In the second half, Lehnhart said Juneau-Douglas continued to play hard in the second half.
"We got the wind in the second half and we were hitting the post," Lehnhart said. "The goalkeeper was making great saves."
Wasilla, however, scored off a counterattack in the second half for an insurance goal.
JDHS played the game without Jamaal Bailey and Dominic Smith, who were ineligible due to receiving red cards Thursday against Colony.
Lehnhart also sat Juneau-Douglas' all-time leading scorer, Dylan Ashe, to allow him time to heal nagging groin injuries.
Despite the recent string of poor results, the Crimson Bears still tote a winning record and should qualify for the state tournament.
Lehnhart gave the team three days off after Friday's game and will get to practice at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park for the first time in a while.
After playing six games on the road in the last two weeks, the team will get a chance to regroup and practice this week in preparation for Ketchikan. The team needs at least one tie this weekend to qualify for the state tournament, which starts May 17.
JDHS defeated Ketchikan 5-0 and 6-0 on April 13 and 15.
"The scores against Ketchikan were misleading because I think this is the best team they've ever had," Lehnhart said. "That's what we need. We need to play a good team, and we needed to go down there and play well against them, no question."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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