(Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire file photo)

(Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire file photo)

Both JDHS soccer teams advance to state semifinals after decisive wins

Top-seeded girls stay undefeated with 5-0 win against Palmer, second-seeded boys top Homer 3-1.

Both soccer teams at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé advanced to the semifinals of the Division II state tournament with victories in their opening games Thursday, with the top-seeded and undefeated girls’ team defeating Palmer High School 5-0 and the second-seeded boys’ coming back from an early deficit to defeat Homer High School 3-1.

The Crimson Bears girls are scheduled to play fourth-seed Homer at 1 p.m. Friday, with the winner of that game playing either second-seed Kenai Central High School or third-seed Soldotna High School for the state title at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

The JDHS boys are scheduled to play Southeast conference rival Ketchikan High School at 3 p.m. Friday, with the winner facing either fourth-seed Palmer or top-seed Soldotna for the title at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

While both Juneau teams ended up with expected wins as the higher seed in their quarterfinal matchups, the boys (7-2-2- overall) found themselves in a hole midway through the first half against Homer (6-6-1), said Head Coach Gary Lehnhart.

“We created a lot of chances, but we weren’t finishing,” he said. “And then they took a shot and our goalkeeper took his eye off the ball and it went through his hands. So that kind of put us in a bad spot. Even though we were in control of the game, we were down 1-0.”

But the Crimson Bears boys quickly came back and tied the game on a goal by Amir Parker with an assist from Ryan Thibodeau. Jr., Lehnhart said.

The score remained tied at halftime and the pattern continued during the first portion of the second half where “we were creating lots of chances, had two kind of breakaways where the guys just missed open nets,” the coach said. But about midway through the half JDHS broke through to take the lead.

“Kai (Ciambor) got a ball and really made a couple of very nice moves, beat a couple of defenders and then slotted it away,” Lehnhart said.

About five minutes later the Crimson Bears scored again during a scrum in front of the Homer net.

“Kellen Chester took a shot that the goalkeeper stopped,” Lehnhart said. “But he wasn’t able to catch it, he just knocked it down. And it was kind of rolling around and one of their guys kicked it a little bit off the line, and then Sonny Monsef shot it in the net to make it 3-1, and then we closed it out from there.”

The intrigue of the Crimson Bears boys’ semifinal against third-seed Ketchikan is each team won two games on its home field, so it will come down to who is superior on the neutral field at Colony High School.

“I think that we have the ability to to control the game and keep them on defense if we’re playing well, if we’re playing hard and pressuring I think we can put them on their heels,” Lehnhart said. “And that’s going to really be the secret for us.”

If JDHS makes it to the title game, it’ll be a rematch of a tie game earlier in the season against either Soldotna which was a scoreless tie or Palmer which ended 1-1.

The Crimson Bears girls fared much easier against eighth-seed Palmer, which neither JDHS goalkeeper who played credited with saving a shot on goal. At the other end of the field, JDHS Head Coach Matt Dusenberry credited the Palmer goalkeeper for some noteworthy saves that kept the margin of victory from being higher than it was.

Still, Cadence Plummer scored the first of her two goals about four minutes into the first half and Peyton Wheeler scored the first of her two goals in the 29th minute of the first half, Dusenberry said. If Palmer harbored hopes of a second-half rally, they were quickly damped by a goal by the Crimson Bears’ Milina Mazon.

“We scored right away in the first minute of the second half,” the coach said. “It was a nice goal. I want to say possibly five different players touched the ball. I mean we moved it around quite nicely.”

Wheeler made the score 4-0 in the 61st minute and Plummer finished the scoring in the 75 minute, Dusenberry said.

The girls’ semifinal against Homer will be a rematch of last year’s playoff opener. But the Mariners are coming off a much more difficult semifinal this year than the Crimson Bears.

“They played Monroe Catholic today and they actually went into overtime,” Dusenberry said. “So they played 100 minutes of soccer today while we only had to play 80. So maybe that plays to our advantage.”

If the top-ranked Crimson Bears make it to Saturday’s title game, they’ll be facing a challenge against either Kenai Central or Soldotna since both teams appear evenly matched, he said.

“The final last year was those two,” Dusenberry said.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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