Courtesy photo / Zach Hanna 
Thunder Mountain High School junior Kiah Dihle kicks the ball during a game against Ketchikan High School.

Courtesy photo / Zach Hanna Thunder Mountain High School junior Kiah Dihle kicks the ball during a game against Ketchikan High School.

Girls soccer seasons off to energetic start

Both teams had solid wins over Ketchikan before facing off at home.

As the interminable winter finally thaws, another thing heating up fast is the competition on Juneau’s soccer fields.

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer teams both started their seasons with strong wins against Ketchikan and a hard-fought match with each other.

“We’ve been able to practice since the season started,” said JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry in a phone interview last week. “You can’t mimic playing on a full-size field. But we’ve made do with what we’ve been given.”

A shortened preseason didn’t stop JDHS from trouncing Ketchikan in back-to-back matches last week, prevailing 17-0 both games. TMHS also soundly defeated Kayhi, picking up matched 7-0 wins.

“We’re excited of course, to get out and play. We played our first games out in Ketchikan over the (last) weekend,” said TMHS coach John Newell in a phone interview. “Both teams were really excited. Ketchikan’s team was really young.”

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JDHS beat TMHS in a 2-0 win in Juneau on Saturday as the season moves forward. The students are glad to be back on the field, Dusenberry said. The team is excited to travel to Ketchikan this weekend and get as play the game as close to normal as possible at the moment, Dusenberry said.

“They’re excited to be able to be around their friends. It’s not the easiest to play with a mask on but they didn’t get to do anything last spring so it’s whatever comes this year,” Dusenberry said. “You have to be a little more strategic about how you practice. We’ve been able to adapt and change and the kids have been fantastic about it.”

Courtesy art / Matt Dusenberry 
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé girl’s soccer roster for Spring 2021.

Courtesy art / Matt Dusenberry Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé girl’s soccer roster for Spring 2021.

Unmelted snow prevented JDHS from playing on their field at the beginning of the season, Dusenberry said. Newell said it’s good to get outside and play again.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to improve and get our outdoor legs,” Newell said. “We’ve been indoors for the last year.”

JDHS’ junior-heavy team is lead by high-powered seniors Taylor Bentley and Jasmin Holst, Dusenberry said. JDHS also looks forward to strong performances from juniors Sophia Pugh, Blake Plummer, Kyla Bence, and Ella Goldstein. TMHS’ doctrine is based more on creating opportunities, Newell said.About half the varsity team is made of seniors.

“We have a strong team from top to bottom. Our first game in Ketchikan, we scored 7 goals and 7 different players scored,” Newell said. “We have a design that as we move the ball around, somebody finds themselves in front of the net. We’ve got a good bunch of kids.”

Courtesy photo / Zach Hanna 
Thunder Mountain High School junior Bella Hanna kicks the ball during a game against Ketchikan High School.

Courtesy photo / Zach Hanna Thunder Mountain High School junior Bella Hanna kicks the ball during a game against Ketchikan High School.

The season will depend largely on the general health of communities around the state, Dusenberry said.

“We have a trip that we would like to go on again. We are scheduled to go to the peninsula — Kenai, Soldotna,” Dusenberry said. “Those are two teams that are scheduled that are willing to play us.”

This season marks Newell’s last as head coach of TMHS, he said.

“I’ve had 20 years coaching, 7 years as head coach. I’m certainly going to miss the coaching part of this,” Newell said. “We’ve got a fairly good-sized senior group. About half the varsity team is seniors. That’s the reason I stuck around. I promised some of these girls I’d coach them through their senior year.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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