Crimson Bears Soccer Girls Go Undefeated on Road Trip

    Juneau-Douglas senior Taylor Bentley puts a scoring shot into the goal during a game earlier this season. The Crimson Bears senior night is Thursday. (Klas Stolpe)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School Kalé girls soccer team finished their Kenai Peninsula road trip with a pair of wins, nipping Kenai 1-0 on Friday and running past Nikiski on Saturday.

      The Crimson Bears had topped Soldotna 4-0 to open the trip Thursday.

      “Playing on the road is never easy,” Juneau-Douglas coach Matt Dusenberry said.

      The Crimson Bears put 42 shots on goal against the Kardinals Friday.

      Three times the players’ strikes hit the post or crossbar.

      The lone goal came in the 39th minute with junior Blake Plummer touching a nice pass to senior Taylor Bentley who put a crushing kick to the right of the keeper and into the back of the net.

      The team also put up a large win over Nikiski on a field that was not the flat turf like home but a natural grass on rolling terrain.

    “We are used to nice flat turf that plays perfect for you all the time and we got to play on some grass,” Dusenberry said. “Balls bounce up on you all the time, grass slows the ball down when you are used to just popping through it on the turf so the kids had to learn to adjust to that.”

      “Dusenberry said Nikiski “Was a great group of kids. They were working their tails off and had positive attitudes about the whole game and were friendly about things the entire match with the kids. They were really excited to see us.”

      Nikiski had been scheduled to play at JDHS last Spring but the season was cancelled, so the Crimson Bears made an effort to include them on this year’s travel route.

      In all three games last weekend Dusenberry said his team focused on not having a goal scored on them.

      Senior keeper Jenae Pusich and junior keeper Zuri DeJean were credited by Dusenberry.

      “This is Jenae’s first year playing with us,” he said. “I am sure she must have played some organized soccer as a kid but this is her first hand at playing high school soccer and she is just a great athlete. And Zuri has been splitting the varsity time 50-50 with her.”

      Dusenberry said the back line defenders including seniors Rachel Erben and Tatum Hines, and juniors Sophia Pugh, Marina Lloyd and Brooke Sanford have been instrumental in keeping the ball at bay.

      “They have been kind of the main ones,” Dusenberry said. “But then Merry Newman (junior) comes in and does a great job, Sierra Kanouse (junior) comes in and does a great job too.”

      For the weekend Blake Plummer was the team’s Hard Hat Award winner against Soldotna, Taylor Bentley against Kenai, and senior Sophie Thibodeau against Nikiski.

      “We are very appreciative for the fact that we get to play against Thunder Mountain and we had a couple games against Ketchikan but it is just nice to get some games for variety to see how teams test you in different ways,” Dusenberry said. “It is always nice to have three teams that play a little bit different styles.”

      According to Dusenberry Soldotna played with more possession and moved the ball from left to right; Kenai was a younger team that committed to more defending; and Nikiski had the slower playing grass pitch.

      Dusenberry noted another cool decision by the Nikiski Bulldogs after the game.

      The town firetruck with lights flashing headed for the field.

      JDHS players thought it might be for an injured player.

      It was, instead for the entire senior roster of the Nikiski team.

      It was the Bulldogs senior night and the senior players were loaded on board and driven around the field.

      “Taylor (Bentley) was like ‘ah, I am expecting this now Matt.’ We have our senior night this week on Thursday,” Dusenberry said.

      The Crimson Bears will play Thunder Mountain at 5:15 p.m. Thursday (JV 7:30). Seniors Pusich, Hines, Bentley, Erben, Thibodeau, Jasmin Holst, Sandra Lamas and Kate Debuse will be honored.

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