The Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the state soccer tournament with a 3-0 victory over the East Anchorage Thunderbirds Thursday at Skyview High School in Soldotna.
The Crimson Bears dominated play in the first half, but didn't score until the second half, Juneau coach Gary Lehnhart said.
``We played probably some of the best soccer we've played all season in the first 10 to 15 minutes,'' Lehnhart said. ``We should have scored a couple of times. They kept getting us offsides, about a dozen times. We talked about that at halftime. The kids knew what they were doing, they just weren't doing it.''
Robert Lossett opened the scoring 50 seconds into the second half when he took a pass from Luke Knowles and finally beat East's offsides trap, where the East defenders snuck ahead of Juneau's forwards so the Crimson Bears would be whistled for offsides any time they had a potential breakaway.
Travis Croteau added an unassisted goal in the game's 66th minute when he lofted a shot which made the East goalkeeper lose it in the sun. Aaron Ver scored in the game's 69th minute on an assist from John Rue. Zuriel Ebron picked up the shutout in goal, with some late-game relief from Swiss foreign exchange student Florian Gruninger.
``This was our third straight game where we've played good soccer,'' Lehnhart said. ``We've talked about that. We can be very good, or we can be mediocre. When we play right, we're unbeatable. It's all about doing the little things. I'm very pleased with our effort.''
Juneau marked East's Jevon Miller, last year's Gatorade Player of the Year for Alaska, so Miller had little impact on the game.
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Lehnhart said he rotated seven different players through his defensive positions, with Jeremy Gleason and Troy Choquette spending most of their time covering Miller, with a little help from Kyle Smith and Cal Craig.
``It's so nice to see so many kids really work as hard as these kids did,'' Lehnhart said. ``We brought 21 players to state (teams can dress up to 22 players). We've always brought just 16 before. But we had so many seniors, like 14 of them, and we played everybody.''
With the victory over East (7-6-2 this season), the Juneau boys (9-4-2) advanced to today's semifinal game against Chugiak (8-4-2), which needed a header by Mike Johnson in the second 10-minute overtime period to defeat Kenai (7-5-1) by a 3-2 score. In the other semifinal, Dimond plays Colony.
Dimond (12-1-1) scored four second-half goals to beat Palmer (12-3-0) 5-1 in Thursday's first-round action, while Colony (14-1-0) claimed a 6-2 victory over Service (6-5-3). Just before the tournament Service lost 11 players to suspensions, and head coach Andy Deitrich and one assistant coach were fired after attending a party where alcohol was consumed by players.
``In my view, the top four teams in the state are in the Final Four,'' Lehnhart said. ``I can see any one of the four winning it. It just depends on who executes. Chugiak is the elite program in the state, in my opinion. Year in and year out they always post a winning record, and I have a lot of respect for (Chugiak coach) Ed Blahous. I was kind of hoping at some point in the tournament we'd get to play Chugiak.''
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