Juneau kickers await state

Thibodeau, Lupro lead high-powered offense as girls open with Dimond

Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2004

You're the goalkeeper of a soccer team, and your opponents have just taken a shot.

As you move to make the save, you take a quick glance at what the opposing forwards are doing.

For some teams, once the shot is made the play is over for the forwards. But on good teams those forwards keep coming at the net - trying to force the goalkeeper into missing the save, or looking for a rebound.

For the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team, senior forwards Greta Thibodeau and Nicole Lupro are the net-crashers. That killer instinct has given the undefeated Crimson Bears one of the most potent offenses in school history and the second seed in this week's state soccer tournament, which opens today with games at Wasilla and Colony high schools.

In a game where goals can be hard to come by, the Crimson Bears (13-0-0) have scored fewer than three goals just once this season, and they have scored at least seven goals six times.

Juneau has outscored its opponents 80-3 this season, and Thibodeau and Lupro are the team's leading scorers. Add in the recent offensive surge from junior Theresa Badilla, and Juneau's triple-threat attack is enough to give opposing goalkeepers nightmares.

Thibodeau and Lupro both recorded three-goal hat tricks in Juneau's 8-0 victory over Ketchikan on Saturday, with Badilla scoring once. That offensive explosion came one day after Thibodeau and Badilla had hat tricks in a 9-0 win over Kayhi on Friday, with Lupro scoring twice.

"My motto is to get in there and attack the keeper," Thibodeau said. "We're trained to follow every shot."

"Me and Greta love that. We're hungry for more goals," Lupro said.

The Juneau forwards can be pretty mild-mannered in the hallways of the school. But put them on the soccer field and there's an intense fire that drives them toward the goal.

The change is especially noticeable in Thibodeau, who plays with a reckless abandon. That recklessness did earn Thibodeau a red card for running into the goalkeeper during a game with Colony her sophomore season, but Thibodeau said the red card didn't change her style and "one red card is not going to stop all my training."

"I don't know where it comes from," Thibodeau said of her aggressiveness. "I think it comes from years of competing with my older brother (Axel, who was on Juneau's state championship boys team last year) and my desire to beat anyone who's out there."

"I wouldn't call it a nasty streak," Juneau co-coach Colin Barton said. "I think it's 100 percent she wants to win."

The Crimson Bears open the state tournament when they play the seventh-seeded Dimond Lynx (5-5-1) at 6 p.m. tonight at Wasilla High School. The winner of the Juneau-Dimond game plays the winner of tonight's game between third-seeded Homer (6-2-0) and sixth-seeded Colony (5-2-1) at 6 p.m. Friday at Colony High School.

In the other half of the bracket, two-time defending state champion Service (10-0-1) takes on eighth-seeded Chugiak (4-8-2) and fourth-seeded East Anchorage (4-2-5) takes on fifth-seeded Grace Christian School (4-2-2) in today's other first-round games.

The state championship game is at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Wasilla High School.

"This is where all of our efforts since the sixth grade come together," said Thibodeau, referring to Juneau's core group of eight seniors who also play together on Juneau Soccer Club teams. "Colin's been saying this is our year since we reached the (State Cup) finals as eighth graders."

"I think we've got a good team together and they're well-educated in the game of soccer," Barton said. "I would like them to make a good showing, and we've got to be one of the better teams in the state. But you've always got to have a bit of luck."

The Crimson Bears, who took fourth place at state last year, haven't been able to play some of the top Anchorage teams this year, including Service, Dimond and East. But Lupro said the lighter schedule hasn't kept Juneau from being able to prepare for the state tournament.

"We're excited for it," Lupro said. "These are our last three games and I hope we can finish perfect. I think we have a really good chance, just as good as anybody else. Maybe we haven't had the best competition, but it built our confidence so we know we can take care of it. We've got really good team chemistry."

• Charles Bingham can be reached at charles.bingham@juneauempire.com.

Girls state tourney

Today's opening-round games:

Noon: Service vs. Chugiak, at Colony

2 p.m.: East Anchorage vs. Grace Christian, at Wasilla

4 p.m.: Homer vs. Colony, at Colony

6 p.m.: Juneau-Douglas vs. Dimond, at Wasilla

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