Playing in their last home game at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park Tuesday night, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer seniors enjoyed every moment.
JDHS played with joy in their 9-0 win over Thunder Mountain High School — looking for highlight-reel goals and finding teammates who haven’t scored — but they aren’t feeling nostalgic about their soccer careers quite yet. They’ve set their sights on the state title.
When asked what his most victorious moment on the pitch was, senior defender Garrett Mayer said, “Check back in two weeks.”
JDHS has a legitimate shot at next week’s state tournament, something the Crimson Bears class of 2016 is yet to get their paws on. They lost last year in the semifinals, and this year contend with strong Service High School and South Anchorage High School teams, both of whom the Crimson Bears have lost to this year, albeit only by one goal each.
Tuesday’s game built the Crimson Bears’ confidence before the state tournament. Junior Ben Undurraga scored a hat trick in the first 20 minutes of the game. The boys would go up 5-0 before halftime and add four more in the second half, including a penalty kick scored by goalie Dante Bonaccorso, who’s been injured part of his career and selflessly took up goalkeeping for the junior varsity team.
Senior Brian Holst also suffered several injuries in his career, including a torn ACL and meniscus, but continued to show up to practice and contribute to the team in every way he could.
The Crimson Bears graduate nine seniors this year, nearly enough to field a full team: Treyson Ramos, John Scudder, Garrett Mayer, Oswaldo Magallanes, Hunter Pegues, Dante Bonaccorso, Brian Holst, James Cheng, Corbin Mitchell and Eddie Munoz fill out the senior squad. Scudder, Magallanes and Pegues are moving on to play college soccer, and will be featured in an upcoming story by the Empire.
Some highlights, as reported by the seniors:
Most impressive goal: “JJ had a 35-yard banger that went bar down against Bothel (High School) this year,” Garret Meyer said.
Best save: “Against Dimond last year, they shot from literally point blank, it was going bar down, and he (Hunter Pegues) just reached his hand up and denied it,” said Magallanes.
Toughest moment: “Losing last year in the state semis,” Mayer said.
“Getting beaten by South Anchorage High School (in the regular season) this year,” Ramos said.
Favorite part about practice: “Gary’s jump squats,” said John Scudder.
“When Gary starts yelling at us,” Mayer said.
What they’ll remember when looking back: “I’m gonna remember Treyson and Garret talking in the back,” Scudder said, adding, “Going to Gary’s house as a group of seniors. That and the friends I’ve made.”
Favorite quote from coach Gary Lehnhart, as told by Ramos, who has, “like seven of them”: “‘Let’s play better today than we did yesterday, so tomorrow we can play better than we did today,’” and, “‘It’s not about who starts the game, it’s about who finishes it.’”
The bracket for the ASAA/First National Bank of Alaska Soccer State Championships comes out Sunday and for the first time will be broadcast as a selection show at 11 a.m. by ASAA and the NFHS network for free at nfhsnetwork.com.
The Empire will cover the state tournament from Anchorage May 26-28.