Juneau-Douglas Boys Topple North Pole to Open State Soccer Play

    Juneau-Douglas sophomore Kean Buss heads a ball during the Crimson Bears 2-0 win over North Pole in the state soccer championships on Thursday at Eagle River. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)

    Eagle River, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears boys soccer team opened their 2021 state soccer tournament play with a win over the North Pole Patriots on Thursday at Eagle River.

      It did not come easy however as the Crimson Bears put over 10 shots on goal in the first half and they all seemed to not want the security of being tucked into the net.

      Juneau-Douglas coach Gary Lehnhart said he had nightmares about a first half like the Crimson Bears played.

      He likened it to one of the last games he coached on the Eagle River pitch, a state tournament in 2013 that featured his son Jackson Lehnhart.

      “It was eerily similar,” Lehnhart said. “We were just dominant. We hit the post, we hit the bar and ended up losing one to nothing on a freak goal. So yeah, I just couldn’t get that out of my head.”

      The Crimson Bears cleared up their coaches thinking with 23 minutes remaining in the second half as junior Matthias Carney dribbled into the box and challenged the Patriots keeper, looking to the middle then touching the ball to himself for a score from a foot off the goal line.

      “Sometimes that is what you have to do, just dribble the ball into the net because nothing else is working,” Lehnhart said. “We were relentless and eventually pushed through. I think the biggest thing in a situation like that is you can’t tighten up. You can’t slip and worry, you have to keep going. We got good games from a number of our players and that helped in the middle of the field.”

      Carney also dribbled through the middle and drew a crowd of Patriots defenders with 12 minutes remaining and touched the ball off to sophomore Kean Buss who put a shot in from 10 yards out.

      “It was a good start to state,” Carney said. “It was good to just get one through the net and to get an assist.”

    On his goal Carney said he was looking back to lay off a pass in the middle.

    “I just faked it to the middle and the keeper came out so I dribbled right by him and tucked it in,” he said.

      Carney credited the Crimson Bears back line of defenders for stifling the North Pole offense and allowing the Juneau-Douglas offense to settle in.

      “Our defense has just been amazingly solid,” he said. “Allowing zero goals or one goal in every game. I am not worried at all when the other team is on attack. I know that they are going to have my back and pick the ball back up.”

      North Pole had the first shot on goal in the opening minute but never had many opportunities after.

      The Crimson Bears had two goals called off in the second half, one a Carney head pass to Buss and the other a corner kick to Buss for a header

      Juneau-Douglas advances to play in a semifinal against Soldotna at 11 a.m., Friday, at Service High School.

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