Their state soccer championship streak may have come to an end in Friday’s 2-0 semifinal loss to Kenai but the championship-quality play of the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears continued on in another close 2-1 loss to North Pole in the 2023 ASAA DII Girls State Soccer third/fifth place game on the West Anchorage High School pitch.
“From the match, and the season too, if you honestly asked all our kids where did you think you would be, I think there was nervousness on their part because of how young they are,” JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry said. “Only having a few returners from last year’s group I think they should be very proud of the season they put together. It didn’t end the way they wanted it to, but they still fought hard.”
JDHS freshman forward Peyton Wheeler put the first score of the match in for the Crimson Bears and would stand for the first half.
“She was beating herself up a little bit yesterday,” said Dusenberry after the match. “But my question to her was ‘Did you envision having this kind of freshman year anyway?’ Through tears she said ‘no.’ She had 16 goals this year as a freshman so the sky’s the limit for her.”
Another score by sophomore Milina Mazon in the first 40 minutes was ruled off side.
North Pole’s fourth shot of the match found a hole in the defense in the second half as Patriots sophomore forward Ally Schammel put the ball into the box from 18 yards out knotting the score 1-1 with 34:15 remaining to play.
JDHS had a penalty kick at the 33 minute mark that was saved by North Pole junior keeper Alyson Garner.
North Pole senior Desiree Dutra put a run down the middle and hit from 20 yards out at the 30 minute mark for a 2-1 score, her fourth goal in the last two matches.
“They are a good team and she is a great player,” said Dusenberry.
JDHS’ Plummer had a free kick from 45 yards that the North Pole’s Garner stopped with 23 minutes remaining and the Crimson Bears had a throw in with 16 minutes left but found no connection.
Plummer also touched a ball across the goal mouth in the final minutes that missed by inches.
“We had a couple free kicks too,” said Dusenberry. “Again because Cadence was spending quite a bit of time on the pitch where she got hit a few times, but their keeper came up with the save.”
There were also moments on the pitch with injury time outs but no extra time was added to the end of the match.
The state tournament brings an extra layer of physicality to the pitch and JDHS sophomore Cerys Hudson was injured Friday and was not playing Saturday per coaches decision
Plummer received the team’s Hard Hat Award.
Said Dusenberry, “The fact that she just kept getting knocked down and kept coming back up and playing her hardest and playing her heart out kind of led by example.”
Since state soccer championships split into DI and DII classifications in 2018 JDHS had won five straight state championships. This was North Pole’s highest state finish since the split.
The youth of the Crimson Bears bodes well for next season.
“I just want to highlight the fact that all of the kids played really well and worked really hard,” said Dusenberry. “It’s not easy to play physical tough matches three days in a row. But they still were grinding the entire game. We got everybody in today and everybody contributed so that was nice. It bodes well for the future.”
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