JDHS soccer tunes up for season

Both of Juneau-Douglas High School’s varsity soccer programs have high expectations this year as they kick off another season of their accomplished programs.

After opening with two wins over Thunder Mountain High School last weekend, the JDHS boys soccer team travels to Seattle for three games this week against Issaquah, Eastlake and Bothel high schools.

The JDHS girls kick their season off with an 8 p.m. Friday match against Thunder Mountain at Adair-Kennedy Field.

The Empire caught up with both teams at a Tuesday night practice to talk about the upcoming season.

JDHS boys: Hot starts, expectations and heavy hearts

In the second of their shutouts last weekend over Thunder Mountain High School, JDHS striker John Scudder did something unprecedented in program history: the senior netted a remarkable six goals in a single game.

“A lot of people were feeding John balls,” senior Waldo Magallenes said. “They were goals that he moved around for, he worked for them, it wasn’t just given. Players were moving around and he definitely was moving the most, getting into dangerous positions.”

When asked if the record was on his mind, Scudder said, “No. They were very team oriented goals.”

Such is the humble nature of JDHS’ outstanding group of upperclassmen. Scudder crowns the top of a strong backbone for JDHS at striker. Behind Scudder down the center of the formation are attacking midfielder Magallenes, defender Garret Mayer and goalkeeper Hunter Pegues. They comprise a group of seniors that head coach Gary Lehnhart says consist of some of the best players in the state.

“I think we have an opportunity to compete at the highest levels in the state,” Lenhart said. “We’re returning one of the state’s best goalkeepers (Pegues), and with Garrett (Mayer) in the back defensively we should be fairly strong. … We’re returning Waldo (Magallenes) one of the state’s most talented midfielders. … We’ll know a lot more this weekend because the Seattle teams will provide as good a competition as we will see here.”

JDHS travels to Seattle with heavy hearts as player Henry Cheng was badly injured in an accidental fall. Cheng is being treated in Seattle and the boys will wear red wristbands in his honor.

“It’s impossible to not have our focus on Henry and we hope that playing will help all of us deal with this and honor Henry,” Lehnhart said. “We are hoping and praying for a speedy and full recovery.”

The Crimson Bears’ boys away schedule this weekend consists of a 6 p.m. Thursday game against Eastlake and a 5:30 p.m. Friday game against Bothel. Briefs for both games will appear online at juneauempire.com.

Deep JDHS girls squad fine tunes game

Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer coach Matt Dusenberry tinkered with some new technology at the end of practice Tuesday. Dusenberry measured the speed and RPMs of penalty kicks as his team approached the net one by one.

The girls are fine-tuning their game toward the end of their first month of practice and look forward to testing their progress at an 8 p.m. Friday match against Thunder Mountain High School at Adair-Kennedy Field.

Penatly kicks proved important last year, as the girls lost in a shootout to Kenai in the first round of the state tournament. The girls then lost a shootout to Wasilla in the ensuing consolation bracket match.

With a talented and deep team, the Crimson Bears girls are taking no chances with late game surprises this year.

Said senior holding midfielder Riley Landen: “This year we have the potential to go far. We have all grades that are real strong. We’re going to keep developing together, and that’s pretty much our strength: our team bond.”

Landen added that their team goal “is to keep playing in the last minute, so we come off with a win or at least fighting for a win.”

Senior striker Amber White commented that the new players are bringing a fresh level of competition to the team.

“There’s a lot more competition now. There are a lot of girls out there that are all trying to get that varsity spot,” White said.

Coach Dusenberry reiterated that his team is strong at all levels, and added that his team plays a fast yet “very simple” game.

“We are playing the ball pretty quick, and making decisions pretty quick, so it’s been fun to watch,” Duesnberry said, adding, “It’s going to sound very simple, but our game is, I think, very simple, so our goal is to score as many goals as we can and to limit as many goals as we can because everything else is out of our control.”