Goalie Tad Watson dives for the ball during Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Goalie Tad Watson dives for the ball during Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

2019 Soccer Preview: Seniors key to ambitious Juneau-Douglas teams

Thunder Mountain boys look for rebound season

It’s hard to say what’s more impressive when talking about the Juneau-Douglas girls soccer senior class: the level of success they maintained last season, or the level of success they could have in their final season together.

Despite there being only one senior on varsity last year, the squad set a new program record for fewest goals allowed (5), went 13-1-2 and won its second-ever state championship.

“I’m just excited right now to see what they can do because it is a big senior group that has played together since they were little kids,” JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry said. “I was part of that in (Juneau Soccer) Club. It’s a pretty smart group of kids. It will be fun to watch and see how things turn out for them as long they keep working.”

Both Shaylin Cesar and Malia Miller rose to the top or near the top of statistical categories. Cesar moved into first place in career shutouts, and Miller became the second-highest scorer in JDHS history.

When asked what drives them this season, you might be surprised that winning another state championship isn’t the first thing on their minds.

“I think our goal should be to beat the teams from Anchorage that are in the higher division than other teams in Southeast or in small schools division,” Miller said. “That’s really our top goal because we’re playing South (Anchorage) and they’re supposed to be really good this year.”

The Alaska School Activities Association broke soccer up into two classifications prior to last season. Now, JDHS and over a dozen other smaller schools with enrollments below 850 students play in the Division II classification, while Anchorage and Fairbanks schools play in Division I.

When the team won the inaugural Division II state championship, the players had mixed feelings about it. If they were going to be crowned state champions, JDHS wanted it to validate they were the best team in the state. But because they didn’t have to play against some of their old competition, it left the players with an unsettled feeling that can only be rooted out one way.

“If we beat the other Anchorage teams that are in D1, I think it just shows them that we can still compete against them even if we’re not in the same division anymore,” senior Michaela Bentley said.

Here’s a look at the rest of Juneau’s soccer teams.

Thunder Mountain boys

Last season: 1-11-1; 0-7-1 Southeast.

Top Players: Marc Manlulu, MF, Sr. Alan Plosay, GK, Sr. Kiernan Kollar, D, Sr.; Jake Babcock, utility, Sr.

Outlook: Thunder Mountain’s 2018 record isn’t pretty, but it also doesn’t tell the whole story of last season. In fact, the Falcons provided worthy competition to the Division II state champion — Kenai — and runner-up — Juneau-Douglas. TMHS scored the first two goals in a 4-2 loss to the Kardinals, and scored the final two goals in a 2-2 tie with the Crimson Bears. The latter result marked the first non-loss to JDHS in program history. A large and experienced senior class that includes standout midfielder Marc Manlulu and goalkeeper Alan Plosay should have this team trending in the right direction this year.

Coach Josh Odum: “Our focus is on getting the ball moving rather than trying to dribble through people. Game-wise, there’s no reason why we can’t tie or beat Ketchikan and we’re looking for strong, competitive games against JD.”

Juneau-Douglas boys

Jack Marnon heads the ball during Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Jack Marnon heads the ball during Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Last season: 11-6-1; 6-1-1 Southeast; second at state tournament.

Top Players: Kanon Goetz, MF, Sr.; Jackson Norberg, MF, Sr.; Ronan Davies, D, Sr.; Tad Watson, GK, Jr.

Outlook: The Crimson Bears replace last year’s large senior class with another deep group of seniors, which includes Kanon Goetz, a fiery midfielder who led the team in assists. The Crimson Bears have played in the state championship game 12 of the past 19 years, including last year, when JDHS lost 3-0 to Kenai in the final. They should have the talent to return there again this year.

Coach Gary Lehnhart: “So far I like the feeling of the practices. I like the way the guys are getting along, I like the way they’re seeing the big picture. I think we got a really strong freshman class in this year, and I think they’ve been really welcoming to those kids and that’s been nice to see the program embracing all of them. Sometimes the varsity kids can forget about the JV kids.”

Thunder Mountain girls

Sally Thompson, left, keeps the ball away from Alina Renz, right, during Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sally Thompson, left, keeps the ball away from Alina Renz, right, during Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Last season: 6-4-2; 3-3-2 Southeast.

Top Players: Sally Thompson, D, Sr.; Macey Fuette, D, So.; Keana Villanueva, D, Jr.

Outlook: The Falcons graduated 10 seniors who made up the bulk of the starting varsity team. Coach John Newell said the incoming group of freshmen has a lot of potential, but will be learning on the go this season. The Falcons’ inexperience will make keeping up with their state champion neighbors a real challenge this year.

Coach John Newell: “Since we are a team full of mostly freshman and sophomores, we are still working things out and will be constantly tweaking positions and formations during the season. This may be a rebuilding season for us, but I expect good things from these girls as we build on our team dynamics for this year, and for the next few years.”

JDHS girls schedule

April 3 Thunder Mountain

April 5-6 at Ketchikan

April 11-13 at Wasilla, Colony, Grace Christian

April 18 at Thunder Mountain

April 19 Homer

April 20 Ketchikan

April 25 Thunder Mountain

April 26 Soldotna

May 2 Grace Christian

May 3 Ketchikan

May 9 at South Anchorage, Service, East Anchorage

May 15 at Thunder Mountain

TMHS boys schedule

March 29-30 at Ketchikan

April 3 at Juneau-Douglas

April 4 Clarkston

April 17 Juneau-Douglas

April 19 Ketchikan

April 20 Homer

April 23 at Juneau-Douglas

April 27 Soldotna

April 29 Ketchikan

May 2-3 Grace Christian

May 7 at Juneau-Douglas

May 9-11 at Soldotna, Homer, Kenai

May 14 Juneau-Douglas

JDHS boys schedule

April 3 Clarkston

April 4-6 at North Creek, Ferris & Mead

April 18 TMHS

April 19 Homer

April 20 Ketchikan

April 26 Soldotna

April 28-29 Ketchikan

May 1 at Thunder Mountain

May 3-4 Grace Christian

May 9-11 at Service, East, Eagle River

May 14 at Thunder Mountain

May 15 Thunder Mounttain

May 17-18 at Ketchikan

May 21 Alumni game

TMHS girls schedule

April 3 at Juneau-Douglas

April 17 Juneau-Douglas

April 19 Ketchikan

April 20 Homer

April 23 at Juneau-Douglas

April 27 Soldotna

April 29 Ketchikan

May 2-3 Grace Christian

May 7 at Juneau-Douglas

May 9-11 at Soldotna, Homer, Kenai

May 15 Juneau-Douglas

May 17-18 at Ketchikan


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


Keana Villanueva, left, keeps the ball away from Alina Renz, center, and Ferlyn Dimasaca during Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Keana Villanueva, left, keeps the ball away from Alina Renz, center, and Ferlyn Dimasaca during Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer practice on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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