JDHS' Malia Miller, right, and TMHS' Meghan Penrose, left,  battle it out on the field on Friday nights game at Adair Kennedy Memorial Park

JDHS' Malia Miller, right, and TMHS' Meghan Penrose, left, battle it out on the field on Friday nights game at Adair Kennedy Memorial Park

JDHS’ senior girls reboot soccer program from tough beginning

“We started from the bottom. Now, we’re here,” Juneau-Douglas High School senior girls soccer player Meranda Frenzel said after her team’s 8-0 senior night win over Thunder Mountain High School Friday.

The Crimson Bears dominated the Falcons in a way Frenzel and her classmates couldn’t have expected three years ago.

This group of seniors, lacking the numbers of upperclassmen they needed their first few years, had to take ownership of a thin roster since their freshman year.

“We had a really rough, literal rebuilding year. The first time we lost to Thunder Mountain, the first time we lost to Ketchikan was our freshman year. We were all on varsity and we all had to kind of work our way up,” Maddie McKeown said.

“Four out of the five juniors went on exchange so we were by ourselves,” Frenzel said. “We had to basically find our own way. This team has come a long way.”

The team went from those tough losses to TMHS and Ketchikan High School their freshman year, to clawing their way back into the Region V soccer driver’s seat their junior and senior years.

“The first two years were honestly the worst. We got pounded like 11-0. It wasn’t even fun,” Kallen Hoover said, laughing.

“We would, like, go out there and cry,” Rylee Landen jokingly added.

The Crimson Bears’ comeback didn’t happen overnight. Though they dominated conference standings this season with an 8-0 record, Landen, White and the team’s junior season was a nail-biter capped by a season-ending win over Thunder Mountain to earn a berth in the state tournament.

They consider that win the most victorious moment of their high school soccer careers.

“It was a crazy game because it was 0-0 all the way up until the very end of the game and then we finally scored two goals,” Hoover said.

“My heart was beating so fast,” Briana Sievenpiper added.

Crimson Bears girls soccer graduates ten players this season: Frenzel, Hoover, Landen, McKeown, Sievenpiper, Katline Barrows, Keely Ewing, Wenshi Fraser, Helen Thurston and Amber White. Most of the girls have been playing together since their youth soccer days.

Freshman Malia Miller and seniors Rylee Landen and Amber White each scored two goals in Friday’s win. Junior Georgia Robinson and senior McKeown added a goal each to round out scoring.

The senior squad said they couldn’t have made all the improvement they had without the help of their coaches and wanted to give a shout out to Matt Dusenberry.

“He’s the best coach we could find,” Hoover joked. “We appreciate him so much and he’s funny. He’s just like one of the girls.”

The JDHS girls head to state next weekend. Brackets will be out Sunday at 11 a.m.


Senior bios (courtesy of the team):

Ewing: the “Baby Beluga” of the goalkeeping core; plans to study education at University of Alaska Southeast.

Fraser: let’s her actions speak louder than her words; a versatile player who played holding mid and wingback; heading to UAS next year.

Frenzel: all business on the backline; been a mainstay with the defense since her freshman year; headed to Boise State University to major in medicine.

Sievenpiper: a “pitbull-like approach” leads to a usefulness in several positions including wingback, winger and striker; attending Penn State University next year to study engineering.

Hoover: one of the zanier people on the squad but a fierce competitor; always helps lift her teammates up; heading to Southern Oregon University next year to study engineering.

Barrows: a dangerous option on throw-ins due to her mind for good overlapping runs; studying environmental science next year.

Thurston: has a knack for stepping up defensively in the most critical times; scored her first goal this year on a backdoor run; studying nursing next year.

McKeown: a big part of attack at striker or winger, McKeown is a prime target on corners due to her height; heading to Yavapai College next year to play volleyball.

White: a co-captain with Landen and a hard-hitter with a great first touch; dangerous deliverer on set pieces; attending Nebraska Wesleyen University next year to study biology and play soccer.

Landen: the engine of the team and co-captain with White; a workhorse that never stops playing, Landen has been a key factor in the team’s mission this year.

• Contact sports reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or kevin.gullufsen@juneauempire.com.

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