Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The two-time defending Division II Alaska state champion Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team returns to pitch action Wednesday and Thursday.
The 2018 and 2019 title-holding Crimson Bears will host the Ketchikan Lady Kings at the Thunder Mountain High School field due to snow conditions at JDHS’ home pitch of Adair Kennedy. Varsity game times are 5:15 p.m. with junior varsity action following.
“Some of the girls are juniors now but they were freshmen within the program and they got to get a little experience with our state title winning team,” Juneau-Douglas coach Matt Dusenberry said. “There were six or seven of them that were at the state tournament so certainly we have some experience there. But this season has some new faces and we will see what kind of new team we have starting this week.”
The 2019 team featured seniors Malia Miller, the all-time leading goal scorer in the state, and Shaylin Cesar, both of whom are playing college soccer, Miller at Bellevue and Cesar at Pacific Lutheran, as well as Eva Goering and 2020 senior Makenna Graham who are both playing at Northern Idaho.
Those players were prominent on the 2018 state title team, too.
Also making an impact in those seasons was current senior Taylor Bentley, a two-time state soccer champion and two-time state All-Tournament team selection who Dusenberry noted as one of the better players on this season’s roster.
“I am looking forward to playing games because it has been a year since I have played a full game of soccer,” Bentley said. “And I play hockey so I didn’t get any games for that either, so I didn’t really have a senior season so I am hoping to have one for soccer.”
Bentley said staying in shape hasn’t been much of an issue.
“I go on a lot of walks because I have a very active dog, so I think that is a big thing that kept me in shape, and I enjoy just being outside and going on hikes and stuff,” she said. “Against Ketchikan, I will be so happy we are just competing again and hopefully we take a win.”
Dusenberry also said the Juneau-Douglas side is laden with juniors, many of whom were freshmen the last time the Crimson Bears played.
In 2019, freshmen Kyla Bentz, Ella Goldstein, Sophia Pugh and Blake Plummer traveled to and got playing time on the state tournament pitch.
Plummer scored 16 varsity goals as a freshman, had numerous assists and started on the 2019 state championship team.
“I am just hoping that we work together as a team and play like how we know how to play, not sink down to anybody else’s levels and just be confident,” Plummer said. “It was hard after state, especially right at the beginning when we learned we weren’t going to be playing at all. I was really looking forward to it, especially since I was so amped up after we won state. But I think we are ready to go. We are fired up.”
Plummer said the team supports each other: "When we make mistakes we don’t get frustrated. We just know to correct them next time. We give each other advice and we don’t get upset.”
“Everybody is pretty supportive and excited to go. I am looking forward to just playing how I know how to play soccer and not get nervous and to just go out there and do what I have been waiting to do for the past year and a half now,” she said.
Plummer’s freshman sister Cadence joins the team this season and should have varsity minutes.
Senior Jasmin Holst has also been on the JDHS varsity roster since her freshman year and classmate Rachel Erben was getting many quality varsity minutes as a sophomore before suffering a knee injury. Both are expected to play key roles.
Juniors Brooke Sanford, Marina Lloyd and Pugh also played varsity minutes as freshmen.
Dusenberry said there are similarities between the past JDHS champions and this year’s team.
“They definitely come to practice and work on trying to get better at what they do,” Dusenberry said. “Because there is a lot stuff come game time that we can’t control. All we can really do is work on becoming better at what we do as the season goes along and I think that trait continues even at practice. They’ve had great attitudes about everything… they are having to wear masks, having to do a bunch of different things that they are not used to when they’re just happy to be out here and have the opportunity. Like Taylor (Bentley) said, ‘We didn’t even really get a season.’ I think we got maybe three or four practices in before the Governor’s announcement that school was cancelled and we were going to put the season on hold and hope in two weeks that we would come back and have a season. Then it got extended to there is no season. So they have had to experience that part and I think they are just thankful to have the opportunity, whatever that opportunity becomes for them.”
Assistant coaches for the Crimson Bears are Phil Subeldia, Joann Quigg and Michaela Bentley.
Varsity game times for Wednesday and Thursday on the Thunder Mountain High School field are 5:15 p.m., while JV will play at 7.
CRIMSON BEARS ROSTER
Seniors: Jenae Pusich (#0, Goalkeeper); Tatum Hines (#2, Midfielder/Forward); Taylor Bentley (#3, MF); Rachel Erben (#11, D/MF); Sophie Thibodeau (#17, MF/F); Jasmin Holst (#18, F/MF); Sandra Lamas (#23, MF); Kate Debuse (#24, MF/F).
Juniors: Zuri DeJean (#00, GK); Ella Goldstein (#4, MF); Unalyn Salaver (#5, MF); Maile Quigley (#6, MF/F); Brooke Sanford (#7, Defender/MF); Clara Don (#8, MF/F); Sierra Kanouse (#9, MF/D); Marina Lloyd (#10, D/MF); Blake Plummer (#13, MF/F); Erlyn Penalosa (#15, MF/D); Natanya Reed (#19, F/MF); Sophia Pugh (#20, D); Merry Newman (#21, D/MF); Kyla Bentz (#25, F); McKenna McNutt (#26, D/MF).
Sophomores: Mariah Kadinger (#14, MF/F).
Freshmen: Brielle Jones (#1, GK); Cadence Plummer (#12, F/MF); Kaitlyn Forst (#16, MF); Kylie Kato (#22, D).