Members of the JDHS girls soccer team celebrate after clinching the state soccer title. The team capped a perfect season by besting the Soldotna Stars 5-1 to clinch the Division II title. (Courtesy Photo/ Carolyn Kelley)

JDHS girls soccer clinches state title

Juneau’s soccer teams dominate state tournament

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé girls soccer team clinched a three-peat at the state tournament this weekend, amid a flurry of sports action that also saw the Thunder Mountain High School boys soccer team take first place at the state tourney and the TMHS girls team and the JDHS boys soccer teams grab the third-place ring.

The weekend also brought four track and field medals home to Juneau and saw both high school baseball and softball teams advance to regional contests.

JDHS girls soccer

Capping a perfect season, the Crimson Bears bested the Soldotna Stars 5-1 to win the Division II title. In the process, they beat their own defensive record, conceding only four goals for the season. The feat resulted in a new state — and a new school record — which previously stood at five conceded goals for the season.

“Going into the tourney, we felt good,” said JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry in a phone interview Monday.

He noted that the team benefited from playing cross-town rival TMHS and that a road trip to the Kenai Peninsula earlier this season gave them perspective on the team’s prospects.

“We felt good with how we were playing,” he said. “We had a pretty good shot.”

The Crimson Bears are graduating eight seniors this spring, seven of whom were at the state final game in 2018 and 2019. Dusenberry said that had COVID-19 not derailed the 2020 season, the team might have been at the state tournament last year, too.

“You have to wonder if these seniors could have won four years in a row,” Dusenberry said. “It’s awesome to see seniors put it all together and really shine. Not just winning but really playing their best.”

Dusenberry said senior Taylor Bentley made a considerable contribution to the team’s success this season, particularly in the state finals.

Girls soccer season off to an energetic start

“She was phenomenal,” he said. “What a way to end her senior year. She scored every game.”

With 15 juniors coming back for next season, Dusenberry said the team’s future looks bright.

A taste of normalcy

Dusenberry said the girls were happy to play after the 2020 season was canceled. He noted that the goal of winning the state tournament was not a discussion point during the season as the team was happy to be back on the pitch.

“Last year, we had three practices before the season got canceled completely. That certainly changed the team’s perspective. They take what comes and make the most of it with whatever happens,” he said.

Dusenberry said that the team’s trip to Anchorage to compete in the finals offered a glimpse of normalcy that their earlier road trip could not deliver.

“We got to go to restaurants and the mall because vaccination rates are higher. It was a nice ending to the season, as it seemed closer to normal,” he said, noting that during the team’s earlier trip, COVID protocols required them to shun restaurants in favor of grocery stores and to stay in the hotel when not playing.

Remembering the fallen

Thunder Mountain girls finish third

With a season record of four wins and five losses, the TMHS girls team secured the state’s third-place finish at the state tournament.

“I think this was an incredibly successful season,” said coach John Newell in a team update he shared with the Empire.

“I also love the fact that we were a little disappointed we finished third. A few years ago, finishing third at state seemed like an impossible goal.”

In addition to a top-three finish for the season, the TMHS team won the academic award for earning the highest GPA in the state.

“I am extremely proud of the girls for that,” Newell said.

Newell also reflected on the way that COVID had shaped this year’s soccer season.

“During a pandemic, we were able to not only play and finish a season, but we were also able to travel to both Ketchikan with our entire team and Anchorage with our varsity. That in itself was a major accomplishment,” he said.

Throughout the season, the team scored 21 goals and gave up 13. However, all four victories were shutouts.

“This follows along with my theory that if the other team doesn’t score, you can’t lose the game,” Newell said.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891.

More in Sports

La Perouse Glacier in Southeast Alaska retreats from a campsite in summer 2021. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Number of Alaska glaciers is everchanging

A glaciologist once wrote that the number of glaciers in Alaska “is… Continue reading

An outdoor basketball hoop is seen in Bethel in October 2022. Alaskans will be able to play only on sports teams that match their gender at birth through college if a new bill becomes law. (Photo by Claire Stremple)
Alaska House committee advances, expands proposal to bar trans girls from girls sports

Bill adds elementary, middle school and collegiate sports to limits in place for high school.

Utah’s Alissa Pili, right, poses for a photo with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected eighth overall by the Minnesota Lynx during the first round of the WNBA basketball draft on Monday in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Alaska’s Alissa Pili selected by Minnesota Lynx as eighth pick in WNBA Draft

Two-time All-American is fifth Alaskan to be drafted, third to go in the top 10.

Pseudoscorpions are very small predators of springtails and mites. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Intertidal explorations

A bit of exploration of the rocky intertidal zone near Shaman Island… Continue reading

The author’s wife fights a steelhead while the author contemplates fly selection. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: The fear of missing fish

Student: “You know, FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out” Me: “I know… Continue reading

Astrophysicists Lindsay Glesener, left, and Sabrina Savage enjoy the sunshine on an observation deck at the Neil Davis Science Center on a hilltop at Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Waiting for the sun at Poker Flat

POKER FLAT RESEARCH RANGE — Under a bluebird sky and perched above… Continue reading

Maddy Fortunato, a Chickaloon middle school student, sets to attempt the one-hand reach by touching a suspended ball while remaining balanced on the other hand during the Traditional Games on Sunday at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Striving for the perfect balance of competition, camaraderie at seventh annual Traditional Games

More than 250 participants pursue personal goals while helping others during Indigenous events.

Purple mountain saxifrage blooms on cliffs along Perseverance Trail in early April. (Photo by Pam Bergeson)
On the Trails: Flowers and their visitors

Flowers influence their visitors in several ways. Visitors may be attracted by… Continue reading

Elias Lowell, 15, balances his way to the end of the pond during the annual Slush Cup at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Sunday, the last day of what officials called and up-and-down season. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Up-and-down season at Eaglecrest ends on splashy note with Slush Cup

Ski area’s annual beach party features ice-filled water, snowy shores and showboating skimmers.

Aren Gunderson of the UA Museum of the North inspects the back paw of a Siberian tiger donated recently by officials of the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage after the tiger died at age 19. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Siberian tiger takes final rest at museum

It’s a safe bet that Aren Gunderson’s Toyota Tundra is the only… Continue reading

A rainbow connects with Kajson Cunningham (30) as he connects with the ball for Thunder Mountain High School during Tuesday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé at JDHS, the opening match of the season for both teams. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
High school soccer season starts with a spectrum of goals and milestones

JDHS boys begin state title defense with 4-0 victory over TMHS, which is playing its final season.

A male rusty blackbird in breeding dress. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: A hungry goshawk and some early spring observations

Every late afternoon, a bunch of mallards is in the habit of… Continue reading