Eagle River, Alaska (KINY) - The Southeast Conference Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears girls soccer team swarmed over the Northern Lights Conference Palmer Moose 3-0 in the opening game of the 2021 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Soccer State Championships Thursday morning at Eagle River.
Crimson Bears senior Taylor Bentley picked up right where she left off from her last state tournament appearance… two years… assisting on two goals to classmate Jasmin Holst.
“It was exciting,” Bentley said. “I am glad to be back.”
Bentley said it was especially pleasing to team up with Holst on the scores.
“She is always the fastest on the field,” Bentley said. “I always know to just play it and she will score every time.”
In their return to the Alaska high school state soccer championships after the coronavirus canceled last season, the two-time defending state champion Crimson Bears marked every Palmer player and had possession of the ball nearly 80 percent of the match.
Bentley is a two-time All State Tournament selection and kept the team focused.
“We have kids that have experience but you could tell that we still had jitters and played like it for a little while,” Juneau-Douglas coach Matt Dusenberry said. “It is a bigger field compared to many of the other fields which means defensively you are running a little more, your passes may end up a little bit shorter because you are not used to knocking it as much.”
Bentley’s passes were on the mark, connecting with Holst with 10:35 remaining in the first half and with 34 minutes remaining in the second half.
Holst hit from 15 yards and 25 yards, respectively, after receiving the touches from Bentley.
“Personally I did not expect this,” Holst said. “I was expecting that last one to miss. I am just happy I didn’t. I thought it was going to go wide. I really put a lot of pressure on myself, especially when I get the ball from Taylor because I know I have to do well with it.”
Junior Kyla Bentz scored the Crimson Bears’ third goal, battling in a scrum 10 yards past the box when Palmer’s keeper charged out.
Junior Sierra Kanouse played a center ball and Bentz gave chase, meeting Moose keeper and various defenders in a dead run.
“I was really stoked about that,” Bentz said. “Because there were, like, six people around.”
The Crimson Bears advance to a 3 p.m. semifinal on Friday at Service High School against the North Pole/Homer winner.