The boys soccer teams of Juneau fought to a draw Saturday, ending with a 4-4 tie game.
The game comes in the early-to-mid season for what should be a contentious season of soccer, said Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé coach Gary Lehnhart.
“I think they’re all going to be like that. These kids have known each other a long time and they used to play together. It’s a good rivalry,” Lehnhart said in a phone interview. “I think each game is going to be close. The first two certainly have been. Both have gone right to the last second.”
JDHS has two wins and two ties this season so far, against TMHS’ 1-1-1 record.
“It was by far better than our first game. We had a massive chemistry disruption. It was heads over tails better. It was hard-fought, hard-pace, high-intensity,” said Thunder Mountain High School assistant coach Josh Odom in a phone interview. “It was the hard first loss that brought them together. They expected more of themselves.”
TMHS led 2-1 at the half as both teams vied for the win.
“We just had our two game stretch in Ketchikan. They were physical games. We’re four games into the season and we’ve won two and tied two. We feel like we’ve gotten off to a good start,” Lehnhart said. “It’s always hard to play in Ketchikan and come back and play the next day.”
JDHS is fielding a class-balanced team this year, Lehnhart said.
“Last year we were really really young. We only graduated two seniors. This year we have a pretty good senior class. We have a nice mix to be honest. We have a couple freshman starting which is unusual. We have a strong junior class which is the core,” Lehnhart said. “I think the future is bright. The JVs started well. It’s one of the best freshman classes we’ve had in a few years. Feeling good about that.”
TMHS is more senior heavy at the moment, Odom said, predicting a transitional year next year.
“We’re losing quite a bit of our upperclassmen next year. Ideally, we’re trying to get a lot of exposure for our younger kids,” Odom said. “We had two or three underclassmen play in that last game. They’ve got big shoes to fill. They’ve got to take the reins.”
This week will be a week for recuperating and readying for the next game, Lehnhart said, as players come back from injuries and focuses on improving their coordination and arrangement. Two major players, including the team’s starting goalkeeper, are already out for the season from injuries, Lehnhart said.
“Four goals is too many. That’s the first thing. We need to shore that up and not put ourselves in a position where we have to score four. That’s part of what happens when you lose a couple kids,” Lehnhart said. “We’ve got a bit of a lighter week this week. We’ll get healthy and retool a bit.”
For TMHS, Odom said, next year will be a very different equation as the team loses many of its upperclassmen.
“The next year is going to be the big one. It’ll be a fundamental year,” Odom said. “It’ll be a transitional year for sure.”
At JDHS, eagerness is running high for the rest of the season, which will see another Saturday match against TMHS, and a weekend of games in Anchorage the following weekend.
“In this program, the goal is always to win it all. We’ve been in the final game, for the 20 years it’s been run, maybe 13-14 times,” Lehnhart said. “That’s always the goal. To get to that final game and win it.”
The next week will be a big one, Odom said, with many teams tied in their wins, losses, and ties.
“Everything is tied up for everyone going in,” Odom said. “This is going to be the tell all week, This is the big week for the season.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.