After being held scoreless on its road trip to Anchorage last weekend, the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team is hoping to get back on track this weekend when the Crimson Bears host the Ketchikan Kings for two games to close out the regular season.
The Crimson Bears at one point were 7-0-0 on the season, but have struggled in recent weeks and now have a 7-3-2 record with losses in the last three games and no goals scored in four straight games. The last six teams Juneau played, all on the road, qualified for last year's state tournament.
This weekend's series with Ketchikan could be what Juneau needs to get its team in order. All the Crimson Bears need is a tie this weekend to clinch a spot in the state tournament May 23-25 at Wasilla High School and Colony High School. Juneau beat Ketchikan twice, 2-0 and 7-0, in Ketchikan to open the season. Game times are 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, and there will be a special ceremony for Juneau's seniors at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"We're going to get our scoring going," Juneau senior defender Emily Smith said. "We just need to get everything together. We've just got to get it (the ball) in (the net)."
"We're ready to score some goals," Juneau senior midfielder Erin Flynn said.
While Juneau's offense has struggled, the Crimson Bears have been solid on defense. The only problem is teams don't win games if they don't score goals.
During last weekend's road trip, Juneau dropped a 1-0 decision to Dimond on Thursday on a fluky goal scored in the game's final two minutes. Juneau then dropped a
2-0 game on Friday to Colony, a team Juneau beat twice 3-2 early in the season. The Crimson Bears closed out the road trip with a 4-0 loss to undefeated Service, the only game in which Juneau co-coach Colin Barton said the Crimson Bears were really outplayed. He said the first two games could have gone either way.
"Our team has been playing well, we're just not scoring," Smith said. "We don't want to be overconfident."
The Ketchikan girls (3-7-1 overall) also struggled on their road trip north last weekend. The Kings opened the trip with a 14-1 loss to Colony on Wednesday, lost to Palmer 5-1 on Thursday, lost 7-1 to Bartlett on Friday and 4-1 to Wasilla on Saturday. The Kings appeared to wear out after they stayed close in the early part of all four games, trailing 3-1 early in the Colony game, 1-0 at halftime of the Palmer game, 2-1 at halftime against Bartlett and 2-0 at halftime against Wasilla.
"We did score in every game," Ketchikan coach Kay Jones said. "We're just not a second-half team. Now we know what we need to work on. The big thing for us is inexperience. One of the downfalls was that first loss set the tone for the rest of the road trip. We never rallied back the rest of the week."
Ketchikan junior Anne Elliott scored goals in the first two games and had an assist in the last one to lead the Kings last weekend. Sarah Brandt-Erichsen, a junior, had a goal and an assist, while senior Kristen Kuehl scored the other goal and junior Leah Cuplin had an assist on the road trip. Ketchikan's defense may struggle, since junior defender Lauren Johnson is out with a broken foot and freshman defender Rachel Schuerger will play with an injured knee.
"We're going to do our best, but we fully expect Juneau will qualify for state," Jones said. "We hope our girls come together and play like we know their capable of playing, like they did in that first game with Juneau (the 2-0 game) and in Canada (a 3-1-1 road trip to British Columbia) and against Wasilla."
The Crimson Bears are looking at righting their own season, and playing at home may be a help. These will be the final home games for Juneau's seniors, and they're hoping to extend their season by clinching a berth at state this weekend.
"We'll be in front of the home crowd," Flynn said. "I think we've been playing really well in practices. Ketchikan's a scrappy team."
"This weekend determines whether or not we go to state," Juneau senior striker Krista Heard said. "We're going to get them. For a lot of people, it's our last games at home. We're just hoping we get some good crowds. We want someone to cheer for us."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.