Normally, the Thunder Mountain girls soccer team wouldn’t feel too good about a 3-0 loss.
Under typical circumstances, the Falcons wouldn’t be in the mood to celebrate after losing by three goals on senior night.
But as the Falcons made their way off the field on a cool and crisp Wednesday night at Thunder Mountain High School, they held their heads high. A team that starts three freshman had just played a strong game against one of the state’s best, their downtown neighbors, Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé.
“Every game, every practice, they get a little bit better,” TMHS coach John Newell said. “We work on one more thing here and there. Our defense is starting to come together, our midfield is doing well, and now we’re working on our forwards and getting into dangerous positions.”
Sophomore Macey Fuette had the best scoring opportunity for the Falcons. Fuette took a free kick from about 25 yards out that goalkeeper Shaylin Cesar redirected off the crossbar and out of harm’s way. The ball skied over a mass of players in front of the net and was headed into the upper right corner of the net. Thunder Mountain hadn’t scored on the Crimson Bears this season.
“From the 25 I usually hit the crossbar pretty well and often,” Fuette said. “I didn’t know if it was going to go fully in, but I knew it was definitely going to hit the crossbar or go right under the crossbar.”
The Bentley sisters, sophomore Taylor and senior Michaela, had the majority of scoring attempts for JDHS. Taylor made it 1-0 with her hard shot midway through the first half and Michaela doubled the lead with a quick kick at the start of the second half.
Newell lauded the job Fuette and Kiah Dihle did on slowing JDHS’ Malia Miller, the top goal scorer in program and state history.
“JD’s been averaging six to seven goals a game, and we held them to three,” Newell said. “So we’re pretty happy with the direction that our team is going.”
Senior Nikki Box scored the third goal of the night on a penalty kick with 23 minutes left.
TMHS junior Ferlyn Dimasaca credited the team’s chemistry for their improvement. The Falcons lost to the Crimson Bears 8-0 at the start of the season.
“During the first game there wasn’t a lot (of communication) because we didn’t know how to play with each other,” she said. “But now that we have communication and chemistry, it’s perfect.”
It may not be the last time these two teams could see each other.
The Alaska School Activities Association expanded the Division II state tournament from six teams to eight teams. Now, in addition to the six automatic berths awarded to the top teams from the Northern Lights, Peninsula, Southeast and Mid-Alaska conferences, the governing body will also awarded two at-large berths. These berths will be handed out to the teams outside of the initial six with the strongest records.
With an undefeated record in Division II play, the Crimson Bears will be the presumptive No. 1 seed in the tournament, which will be played next weekend in Anchorage.
“We’ve had a great regular season and we’re looking forward to the state tournament next week,” JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry said.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.