After being back in town for just three school days, the Juneau-Douglas High School soccer teams will hit the road again this weekend as the Crimson Bears make their second trip to Anchorage in as many weeks.
But this time the Crimson Bears hope they get some better weather when each team plays three games at Anchorage Football Stadium. Last weekend, a freak spring storm dumped about eight inches of snow on Anchorage and while the Crimson Bears were able to get their games in conditions weren't the best.
"It was snowing," Juneau boys midfielder Robert Lossett said.
"It was a blizzard," Juneau girls striker Callan Janowiec added.
The Juneau boys (6-3-1 overall) will play Service at 7 p.m. today, Dimond at 9 p.m. on Friday and Chugiak at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Juneau girls (8-2-1) play defending state champion Service at 5 p.m. today, Dimond at 1 p.m. on Friday and Chugiak at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The Juneau girls are looking forward to their game against Service (7-1-0), which was upset earlier this season by East Anchorage (4-0-3), an undefeated team that Juneau tied 3-3 last Friday. Chugiak (4-3-1) and Dimond (3-4-1) are both hovering about the .500 mark.
"We know we can tie East, so we might beat Service," Janowiec said. "It's amazing how our young team has been playing."
"We haven't beat them in like 10 years," Juneau midfielder Krista Heard said of the Cougars. "If we beat Service, I think we can win state or at least have a chance."
The Juneau girls also beat Bartlett last Thursday, then canceled their game against defending state runner-up Colony on Saturday. Earlier this season, Juneau split a pair of games with Colony in Juneau which is one reason the teams didn't play a shortened 7 a.m. game in last weekend's poor weather.
The Crimson Bear boys will face two of the three toughest teams in Anchorage in Service (6-2-2) and undefeated Dimond (6-0-2), and Chugiak (3-6-2) will be looking to avenge Juneau's 5-0 victory in Juneau last month. Service just handed West Anchorage (6-1-1) its first loss of the season earlier this week, and Dimond still has yet to lose. When Juneau beat Chugiak, Mustangs coach Ed Blahous said it was Chugiak's worst loss since the 1984 season. Chugiak has been down this season because of injuries, but the Mustangs did beat East earlier this week.
East (2-7-0) is the only Alaska team to beat Juneau's boys this season, as the Thunderbirds claimed a 3-2 upset last Friday. In Juneau's other games last weekend, the Crimson Bears blanked Bartlett 5-0 on Thursday and knocked off Colony 5-1 Saturday in a rematch of last year's state championship game.
"We didn't play that good last weekend," Lossett said. "I think the games before, we'd been winning by too much and we lost our focus. This weekend should be a test for us."
Even with the loss to East, Juneau has outscored its Alaska opponents 34-4 this season. In a season-opening trip to Spokane, Wash., the Crimson Bears posted a 1-2-1 record, but they did well enough to earn Alaska's first ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's April 23 regional rankings (which haven't been updated since). Juneau was ranked ninth in Region V (Alaska, Washington and California) and was the only non-Washington school ranked.
"One thing that happened with East was it showed us we were winning at such a rate that it wasn't doing us any good," Juneau boys coach Gary Lehnhart said of Juneau's lopsided victories. "This showed us we're not invincible, and there were some potential problems we needed to work on. Service, Dimond and West, I think, are a step up on the other teams in Anchorage and Chugiak just beat East this week."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.