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The nationally ranked Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team got back on the winning track Thursday by claiming a 5-2 victory over the Wasilla Warriors at Wasilla High School.
It was Juneau's first game since suffering a 1-0 upset loss to the Chugiak Mustangs a week ago. Juneau is ranked sixth nationally in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, and is in the unranked second-25 part of the Student Sports Inc. spring soccer Fab 50 rankings.
"I was pleased for two main reasons," Juneau coach Gary Lehnhart said. "In our last game, the loss, there were a lot of similarities to this game. But our guys were focussed.
"It's one thing to say you got a wake-up call, but it's another thing to do something about it," Lehnhart continued. "We got our sense of urgency back, but we still have a lot of work to do. The other thing I was pleased about was we played without two starters in the outside mid. We lost one to grades and the other, Travis Croteau, got sick before the game and stayed in the hotel."
After each game Lehnhart gives one player a lunchbox because he feels that player came to work that day. Lehnhart said Croteau epitomizes the lunchbox award's work ethic, and the team was really missing him on the field.
After Thursday's game, Lehnhart gave the lunchbox to Jon Rue, who scored two goals and added an assist. Lehnhart said Rue set the tone of the game early, as he dominated from his central midfield position. Later in the game, Juneau's other center midfielder, Robert Lossett, picked up his intensity and added one goal and three assists for the Crimson Bears.
"Jon had a sense of we've got to fix this," Lehnhart said. "Rob got off to a slow start today, and it's usually the other way around. Rob comes out strong early and Jon starts kind of slow."
Juneau took a 1-0 lead 4 minutes, 20 seconds into the game when Rue scored off a crossing pass from Kalon Wright. In the 18th minute, Lee Sullivan made it 2-0 as Lossett made a throw-in to Zach Essary, who sent the ball to Sullivan. Rue scored his second goal of the game in the 23rd minute off an assist from Lossett after a corner-kick.
Wasilla made it 3-1 in the 30th minute when Chris Cunningham scored on a penalty kick, the first shot Wasilla took on Juneau goalkeeper Zuriel Ebron all night, Lehnhart said. But Juneau answered five minutes later when Axel Thibodeau scored on a nice volley from the air, with Lossett making the throw-in to Rue, who set up Thibodeau's goal.
In the second half, Lehnhart said he'd already started pulling his players when Wasilla was awarded another penalty kick. Clint Morehouse made the PK in the game's 62nd minute, making the score 4-2. Lehnhart said he put Lossett back into the game, and Lossett answered 10 minutes later with an unassisted goal on a long shot into the upper corner of the net for the game's final score.
"Juneau was definitely the superior team," Wasilla coach Blake Livingston said. "For my team, this was definitely a huge challenge for us. It gave us grounds for where we stand."
With the victory, Juneau improved to 11-1-0 overall this season. Wasilla fell to 5-3-0 overall.
Juneau plays at Colony tonight in a rematch of the 2000 state championship game, won by Colony 3-2. On Saturday, Juneau will play undefeated Service at Anchorage Football Stadium.