Clairee Overson (#8) kicks the ball downfield for Thunder Mountain High School during Monday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Clairee Overson (#8) kicks the ball downfield for Thunder Mountain High School during Monday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Undefeated JDHS girls soccer team defeats winless TMHS 8-1

Crimson Bears’ second-half scoring spree gives both teams lessons to learn from and build on

This story has been corrected to note the TMHS goal was on a free kick, not a penalty kick.

The undefeated Crimson Bears have a strong returning team seeking to reclaim a state title, while the winless Falcons have a lot of new players and were missing their coach due to illness when Juneau’s two girls’ high school soccer teams met at Adair-Kennedy Field on Monday night.

But while Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé controlled the ball most of the first half, Thunder Mountain High School remained competitive in what their fill-in coach called their best game of the year, trailing 2-0 at halftime. However, the Crimson Bears would score three goals in less than a minute about ten minutes into the second half, then followed up with three more goals for an 8-1 win over their crosstown rival.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Cadence Plummer and Thunder Mountain High School’s Randy Stichert fight for the ball during Monday’s game at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Cadence Plummer and Thunder Mountain High School’s Randy Stichert fight for the ball during Monday’s game at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

For JDHS, which won the state Division II title in 2022 and then was eliminated in the semifinals last year after losing a number of seniors, Monday’s victory to get the season off to a 4-0 start was another promising sign as the Crimson Bears return with all but three seniors. The team, which so far has played TMHS twice and Ketchikan High School twice, is preparing to see how they match up against the state’s best with matches later this week in Anchorage.

“I imagine we’re going to do OK based on the way I’ve seen,” JDHS head coach Matt Dusenberry said after the game. “Despite not winning the state title last year, we weren’t run out of town. We lost to (runner-up) Kenai 2-0 in the semis. Against (third place) North Pole we were ahead until the last part of the game and then they snuck one in. I would think that if we keep our heads on straight and keep playing — you never know with injuries and things like that — we should still have a legitimate shot this year, that’s for sure.”

Martin Morris, a team volunteer for the Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer team, discusses strategy with the players at halftime during Monday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Martin Morris, a team volunteer for the Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer team, discusses strategy with the players at halftime during Monday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Injuries to TMHS players along with illness keeping head coach Cindy Eriksen away from the game were just part of the struggle for the winless Falcons’ on Monday, as they also are fielding a young team including goaltenders who were playing the position for the first time, said Martin Morris, a team volunteer who filled in on coaching duties. But he told the team afterwards “that was probably the best game we played this season” aside from the second-half scoring spree by JDHS.

“We’ve shown we can do it,” he told the players, noting the relatively even play during the first 50 minutes. “We haven’t down we can do it over a whole game.”

Also looming over the Falcons is this is almost certainly the school’s last season, since all high school students are scheduled to be consolidated into JDHS next school year. Miley Andrews, who scored the TMHS goal on a free kick with about 13 minutes left when she sent the ball in a high arc out of the JDHS goalkeeper’s reach, said she shares Morris’ optimism the season can be a promising one.

“Half of us have never played with each other,” she said. “So I think for not playing with each other we’re not doing too bad. I think we’re a great team when we’re a healthy team.”

Milina Mazon scores one of her three goals for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Monday’s game against Thunder Mountain High School at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Milina Mazon scores one of her three goals for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Monday’s game against Thunder Mountain High School at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Leading the scoring for the Crimson Bears was Milina Mazon, a junior midfielder/forward who scored three goals and an assist, plus a goal that was nullified by an offsides call. This is her second year on the varsity team and she said this year’s squad seems notably improved.

“Last year we had to come back from losing a bunch of seniors and definitely now we’ve gotten used to (each other) and we’re practicing really hard,” she said.

Cerys Hudson, a junior midfielder, scored the first Crimson Bears’ goal and Mazon followed up with her first goal to make the score 2-0 at halftime. The scoring spree started with 30:11 left in the second half when defender/midfielder Natalie Travis scored on a free kick — not her first this season, according to Dusenberry — followed by sophomore forward Payton Wheeler scoring almost immediately afterward at the 30-minute mark and senior midfielder Cadence Plummer scoring with 29:20 remaining to make the score 5-0.

Mazon scored her second goal at the 21:24 mark and, following Plummer’s second goal with 19:35 remaining, completed the hard hat trick with a long kick from near the end line with about four minutes remaining.

Matt Dusenberry, head coach of the girls soccer team at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, addresses the team at halftime of its game against Thunder Mountain High School on Monday at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Matt Dusenberry, head coach of the girls soccer team at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, addresses the team at halftime of its game against Thunder Mountain High School on Monday at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The relatively low-scoring play during the first 50 minutes indicates areas where the Crimson Bears can improve as the season moves forward, Dusenberry said.

“I thought we came out a little timid, as far as I thought we could have looked to put pressure on the ball,” he said. “I thought we could have maybe played the ball a little bit quicker because the angles were there, their teammates were there, and maybe we relied on dribble when we could have played it on and kept going. But you can’t complain against an eight-to-one result. And we got to sub and the kids that came in did just as well as the starters.”

There are 42 players on the JDHS varsity and junior varsity teams, compared to 36 last year, ranging from girls who have played since they were five years old to others who are playing for the first time, Dusenberry said. He said one of the strengths among those players is the team’s offense, as portions of Monday’s game showed.

“Across the board on in our offensive half I’ve got kids that all can comfortably shoot on frame,” he said. “So that’s a luxury to have because in some cases we’ll play teams where they’re relying on one kiddo that to put the ball in the back of the net for them.”

Miley Andrews (#16) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal on a free kick for Thunder Mountain High School during Monday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Miley Andrews (#16) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal on a free kick for Thunder Mountain High School during Monday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

For the Falcons, Andrews said it was more mental than physical mistakes that resulted in the rapid succession of second-half goals by the Crimson Bears.

“I think we got in our own heads,” she said. “And honestly it’s hard to get back up. If you want to pick up the team we all have to pick up each other, not just one player. So I think with us we’ve got to pick each other up always, no matter what. So it got in our heads, but we got out of it. So that’s all that matters.”

Morris said the struggles the Falcons experienced are in areas they can overcome as, like JDHS, they prepare to face their first non-conference competition up north this week.

“Our defense was dropping in about 15 to 20 yards too deep,” he said. “So when our defense dropped our midfield dropped and we left a 60-yard gap in the middle for their midfielders just to punch long shots.”

There were fewer than 30 players on the TMHS varsity and junior varsity teams Monday, which was among the reasons Morris urged them after the game to keep looking forward as they work to improve and injured players return.

“When we did get close enough to combine we created opportunities and chances, and so we know we can do it,” he told them. “Now we’ve got two days to really try and fix it, and try and take every opportunity to get better, but just be confident we’ve shown that we can do it.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

Thunder Mountain High School’s Ella Orsborne tries to keep the ball away from Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Alyssa Travis during Monday’s game at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School’s Ella Orsborne tries to keep the ball away from Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Alyssa Travis during Monday’s game at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Peyton Wheeler (#5) is congratulated after scoring a goal during the second half of Monday’s game against Thunder Mountain High School at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Peyton Wheeler (#5) is congratulated after scoring a goal during the second half of Monday’s game against Thunder Mountain High School at Adair-Kennedy Field. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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