Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé goalkeeper Alex Mallott stops a shot by Ketchikan’s Joe Larson (9) during the Crimson Bears 4-2 win May 17 over the Kings during the regional tournament at Adair-Kennedy Field. JDHS defeated Ketchikan again in state semifinals to advance to the state title game. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé goalkeeper Alex Mallott stops a shot by Ketchikan’s Joe Larson (9) during the Crimson Bears 4-2 win May 17 over the Kings during the regional tournament at Adair-Kennedy Field. JDHS defeated Ketchikan again in state semifinals to advance to the state title game. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)

Both JDHS soccer teams are playing for the state title on Saturday

Boys to defend crown in rematch against Soldotna, followed by top-seeded girls against Kenai Central

This is a developing story.

Both soccer teams at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé are playing for the state championship on Saturday.

The top-seeded and undefeated JDHS girls beat Homer High School 5-0 in the Division II state tournament semifinals on Friday, with the Crimson Bears controlling the ball most of the game. That victory was followed by the second-seeded Juneau boys defeating Ketchikan High School in a game that went to a shootout with the score tied 1-1, with Crimson Bears goalkeeper Alex Mallott stopping Ketchikan’s first two shots while Juneau hit their first four to clinch a 5-3 victory.

The JDHS boys (9-2-2 overall) will seek their consecutive state crown at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against top-seed Soldotna High School (17-0-1) in a rematch of last year’s title game. The two teams played to a scoreless tie earlier this year.

The Crimson Bears girls (12-0-1) are scheduled to face second-seed Kenai Central High School (16-2-1) for the title at 1:30 p.m.

While the Juneau girls are showing dominance in the state tournament so far, including a 5-0 quarterfinal victory over Palmer High School on Thursday before Friday’s similar semifinal, the boys provided the drama on Friday.

After a scoreless first half, the Crimson Bears took a 1-0 lead over Ketchikan with a goal less than three minutes into the second half. But with about 23 minutes remaining in the half JDHS was hit with a red card due to a player hitting the ball when his hand near the Ketchikan goal and a successful penalty kick by the Kings tied the score — and left the Crimson Bears playing with a man down for the remaining time.

“When you add it all up we played down a man for 65 minutes,” said Juneau boys’ Head Coach Gary Lehnhart.

“I’ve coached a lot of games — I think 500 and something. And I don’t think I can remember a game where a team that was down a player and not ahead at the time was able to hold the other team off for that long like that for 65 minutes. That’s that’s probably the longest I can remember in my career.”

Even shorthanded, Lehnhart said he felt his team had the better performance in the latter portion of the game.

“We had felt there were three clear penalties that weren’t called,” he said. The team also came within a hair of victory with about two minutes remaining in the third overtime when a slow-moving shot toward an empty Ketchikan net hit the goalpost and bounced out.

“So in our view we felt like we deserved to be the winners and it played out that way,” Lehnhart said. “And it doesn’t always do that in a shootout. So we felt like it was the right outcome given how the game was played.”

The adversity of the game may ultimately be a benefit in the title rematch, he said.

“This team needed something like that,” Lehnhart said. “Coming off of two state championships, I think this team may have felt a little entitled and they they didn’t play particularly well for stretches of the season. And they kind of lost their way a little bit and they needed something to bring them all back together.”

In the girls’ game JDHS took a 2-0 halftime lead over Homer — matching the score of the previous day’s game against Palmer — and like that earlier game quickly pressed their advantage in the second half with one goal about eight minutes in and another less than two minutes later to make the tally 4-0. Also like Thursday’s game, Crimson Bears’ Head Coach Matt Dusenberry gave his reserve players plenty of field time with the comfortable lead, leading to a more back-and-forth battle with Homer that saw Juneau score a final goal with about 4:30 remaining.

While statistically the girls’ two state games are similar, Dusenberry said he felt Friday’s game got off to a more sluggish start.

“Sometimes the nerves can get the best of them and maybe think the game is bigger than it really is, and that they have to do something different,” he said. “So we started out a little bit kind of slower than normal.”

The first goal resulted in his team playing more relaxed and effectively, which Dusenberry said he hopes carries over to the final against a Kenai team whose semifinal extended into two overtimes.

Cadence Plummer, a senior, led the Crimson Bears’ scoring Friday with two goals and an assist, while the other goals were scored by juniors Parker Boman and Milina Mazon, and freshman Alyssa Travis.

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

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