When the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team takes control of the ball, it often looks like complete chaos.
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In reality, however, it's a highly regimented attack designed to score quickly.
The Crimson Bears move the ball quickly to all points of the field. No one touches the ball more than once or twice while players scramble and sprint towards open space.
"We have our formation so we can play like a transition game where we try to get everyone on offense and everyone coming back on defense," JDHS flank Isaac Stark said.
The Bears' system, which features multiple players along the sidelines and just one main striker, is quick, exciting and effective.
JDHS (11-2-3) has scored 62 goals this year, averaging nearly four goals per game. The Bears have lost only once to an Alaska opponent this year, scoring 50 goals in the process.
"When it's working well we can move the ball real quick in small spaces and then look for the long ball after a few short ones," Stark said.
A key to the Bears' prolific attack is the play of the wings and flanks. These two midfield positions play along the sidelines.
JDHS boys soccer
Who: No. 3 Juneau-Douglas vs. No. 6 East Anchorage
What: ASAA State Soccer Tournament first round game.
Where: Anchorage Football Stadium.
When: 4 p.m. today.
What's at stake: Winner of today's game will take on West Anchorage in the semifinal round at 6 p.m. Friday.
With multiple options along the sidelines, JDHS can reverse directions on the field quickly. The team also puts an emphasis on moving the ball quickly, which keeps the opposing defense guessing where the ball will fly next.
This creates open space and holes in an opposing defense. The holes are then exploited by the wings and attacking players for potential goals.
The flanks probably have the most tiring position on the field. They must hustle back to receive passes from the fullbacks, then sprint forward to be part of the attack.
"Our flanks, they throw everything they have our there and just hustle back and forth and back and forth," JDHS defender Zach Farrington said.
This all-out attack does put pressure on the defense to be solid. The threat of a counterattack always looms, so the three-man defensive alignment of Farrington, Alex Schirmer and central defender Carlo Ebron, along with goalkeeper Sam Post, must be aware of where the opposition is.
Throughout the season, the Crimson Bears have been stellar defensively. JDHS has recorded seven shutouts this year and allowed more than one goal in a game only three times all year.
"We try to step up and cut off as much as we can," Farrington said.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.
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