The momentum gained by the Juneau-Douglas boys' soccer team during its 2010 4A state championship run carried over to the capital city's U17 club-level Jambaars, who just returned from the Region IV tournament with a second-place finish.
After blowing through group play, the Jambaars fell just short against Cal South in the championship game of the President's Cup, losing 1-0 in extra time. Their run through pool play and the final game of the tournament, which took place in Medford, Ore., June 16-20, marked the deepest Region IV run ever for Alaska club soccer.
The Jambaars were invited to the President's Cup this summer after their second-place finish last year in the Alaska State Cup.
Cal South scored with seven minutes remaining in the second period of extra time for the only goal of the match, and although the Jambaars were able to create several opportunities in the final minutes of the game, they couldn't find the back of the net.
Coach Matt Dusenberry said by the final game, which lasted the full 120 minutes, both sides were battling fatigue.
"It was a tough game because, man, did both teams pour their hearts out," he said. "But one of their last players that still had some fitness snuck one in near-post right underneath Taylor (Lehnhart), who was basically playing goalkeeper with one hand after someone stepped on his hand in the first match."
Dusenberry added while his team played well, Cal South seemed to have the upper hand for much of the game.
"To be honest, though, Cal South had the run of the play," he said. "They were skillful, kept the ball going from left to right and just waited for the openings, but we kept them at bay for the most part."
Prior to the loss in the championship game, the Jambaars swept through group play with a 3-0 record against teams from Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Dusenberry said Juneau's deep run in the tournament was an important step for the Juneau Soccer Club.
"That's big for Juneau because, for the longest time, once kids get to high-school age they taper off for different reasons during the summer, not just because of high school soccer," he said. "It's hard to keep older teams around, so this was good for our club to see a team that held together."
When the team arrived in Oregon, there was some uncertainty as to how healthy many of the players were going to be.
"We got there knowing we only had 15 players, including some of Gary's (JDHS boys' coach Gary Lehnhart) squad that were still trying to heal up from the state tournament," Dusenberry said. "I knew the boys would compete, but I wasn't expecting much due to the injuries.
"They put together a great tournament."
He also said despite the team's limited numbers and injuries, the Jambaars were able to start fast and take care of the opposition in their group, as they were the only team to earn nine points at the group stage.
"We took it to them right from the get-go and the kids battled every game," Dusenberry said. "It was impressive to see."
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