For five straight seasons the Juneau boys have ended Colony's bid for a state soccer title, but in Thursday's first round of the state high school tournament the Knights finally got the better of the Crimson Bears with a 2-1 overtime victory at Eagle River High.
"It's huge," Colony coach Jeremy Johnson said. "We knew coming in it was gonna be tough. To get used to the speed of play that Juneau had, it took us almost the whole first half."
Colony trailed 1-0 at halftime after a goal from Juneau's Nick Stewart in the 29th minute. The comeback included a second-half equalizer from senior Nick Blohm and an overtime strike from senior Jacob Spannagel.
The win advanced the Knights to Friday's semifinals at Chugiak High, where they will face the winner of a late match between North Pole and West.
Juneau slipped into unfamiliar territory -- the elimination round. The Crimson Bears played in the title match the last three seasons, winning it all in 2010 and 2011 before finishing runner-up to Dimond last season.
Blohm's game-tying goal involved an athletic move near the left goalpost, where Blohm outjumped a defender and headed a high-arching Tanner Menard cross into the net with just more than 15 minutes remaining in regulation. Menard's hustle is what made the play, Blohm said, plus his hang time got a little boost from a defender.
"I was kinda floating on top of another player, but sometimes that happens in the box," Blohm said.
Spannagel's goal came midway through the first of two 10-minute overtime periods when he ripped a low, curling shot from about 25 yards out.
"Their sweeper came at me and it didn't faze me," Spannagel said. "It came off my foot great. I connected with it and it curved in."
Soccer overtime includes two 10-minute periods played to completion. If the score is still tied, two five-minute sudden-death periods ensue. If no goal is recorded, the match is decided by penalty kicks. Colony controlled much of the play throughout the two extra 10-minute frames, limiting Juneau's chances.
"You have to give them credit, they came back and we didn't finish the opportunities we had in the second half," Juneau coach Gary Lehnhart said. "The game could have gone either way, and it didn't go our way."
Juneau's goal came quickly on a breakaway by Stewart. He broke free down the right side and received a crisp pass from Jackson Lehnhart. The resulting close-range shot was one he has been working on ever since missing some similar breakaways in an early-season match against Ketchikan.
"You just have to put it a little bit off the goalie and it's gonna go in when you're that close," Stewart said.
Until then, Colony had controlled play in the first half, so the goal gave the Crimson Bears a boost of energy, Stewart said.
Dimond 9, Soldotna 0
Defending state champion Dimond came out firing against Soldotna on Thursday, racking a 9-0 blowout in a first-round state tournament match at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.
Nine players scored, starting with a blistering shot from Jack Sedor in the third minute and continuing with Sedor assisting Matthew Froelich in the 33rd minute.
The Lynx led 2-0 at halftime and then blew it open with goals from Kerrick Eagle, Matthew Cerveny, Micah Rickard, Ian Wilber, Taylor Thoma, Andrew Glover and Cory Schneider.
Dimond will face the winner of a late match between South and Wasilla in Friday's semifinals at Chugiak High.
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS