High School Sports

Both Juneau-Douglas soccer teams cruise through the opening round of the Alaska state tournament

The 2022 Alaska high school state soccer tournament kicked off on Thursday, and the top-ranked teams in the Division II level cruised to easy victories.

Both the boys and girls Juneau-Douglas squads took care of business in the opening round of the tourney with dominant wins. The parallels continued, as both teams held their opponents scoreless and each had a player that recorded four goals.

The boys team was led in scoring by senior Matthias Carney, who scored three of his goals in the first half in a 5-0 Crimson Bears’ win over Soldotna.

“It was great for me to pick up four goals and get my confidence up, but my teammates really played some great balls to me,” Carney said. “Most of (the goals) were all due to them, and I just put the ball in the net.”

While it marked the most goals he has scored in a state-tournament match, the most Carney has scored in a single game in his career is five. That came in mid-April in the team’s 5-1 win over Homer early on in the regular season.

He scored his fourth and final with just over 20 minutes left to play in the second half before being pulled out of the game to cool off and let some of his teammates get a chance to play.

“He’s a goal scorer,” Juneau boys coach Gary Lehnhart said. “He had a great game.”

One of Carney’s teammates that entered the game late with a few minutes left to play was fellow senior, Solomon Alper, who Lehnhart said had been battling injuries for most of the season and wasn’t a starter even when healthy.

“He’s a fun kid, and I said, ‘Why don’t you just go in and get your name in the book. You can always say you played in the state tournament, and who knows, you might score a goal,’ ” Lehnhart said.

Alper scored Juneau-Douglas’ fifth and final goal with just under a minute left to play but the way in which his teammates on the field swarmed him in celebration and the sideline erupted, it might as well have been the game-winner.

“Of course he scores a goal,” Lehnhart said. “It was fun to watch the kids’ reactions. This is one of the most together units I’ve ever coached from top to bottom.”

The triumph tasted even sweeter for the Crimson Bears given that the Stars were the team that knocked them out of the running for a state title in last year’s semifinals.

“It was great to come out and beat the team that beat us last year,” Carney said.

The girls team features a senior-heavy group that is determined to make the most of their last ride. That’s exactly what sensational senior forward Kyla Bentz did when she matched her season- and career-high for goals scored in a game with four in the Crimson Bears’ 6-0 victory over the No. 8 seeded Houston Hawks.

“It’s really exciting, and I’m glad to be here with my team,” Bentz said. “As a senior it’s kind of like ‘Wow take it all in,’ but I’m really excited about what we can bring to the rest of the tournament.”

She scored a pair of goals in each half with both instances being within minutes of each other. Her teammate and fellow senior, Blake Plummer, scored a pair of goals, one in each half. On Bentz’s fourth and final goal, Plummer broke the state record for career assists.

“I’m glad that I could give her that,” Bentz said. “My parents always told me that assists are better than goals in some ways.”

Juneau girls head coach Matt Dusenberry said that Bentz “has always had a knack for finding the net” and that this year has “really been working for her.”

“I think she is somewhere around 27 or 28 goals this season so it’s a fantastic season she’s putting together for her senior year,” Dusenberry said.

Both of the Juneau-Douglas teams take pride in supporting one another, as many of them have known each other and played together since childhood.

“Despite being a small little town, it’s great that we have kids that can play, and it’s not just JDHS, it’s Thunder Mountain,” Dusenberry said. “Those are Juneau kids too, and they play with each other in the offseason.

In other boys Division II action, Kenai Central advanced 1-0 past Ketchikan, Thunder Mountain topped Palmer 3-1 and Grace Christian bested North Pole 4-1. On the girls side, North Pole shut out Ketchikan 5-0, Homer blanked Kenai Central 1-0 and Grace Christian slid past Soldotna 2-1.

In Division I boys action, top seed Dimond advanced 2-0 over Eagle River and South beat Lathrop 2-1. Colony, the No. 6 seed, pulled a 3-0 upset over No. 3 West Valley. West slid past Service in a game that was 1-1 until a shootout, which West won 5-3. On the girls side, Service topped Lathrop 1-0, and South toppled West Valley 2-1. Chugiak upset the No. 3 seed West 2-1 to move into the semis and top seed Dimond had no problem with Wasilla, winning 6-0.

Alaska State Soccer Tournament

Thursday-Saturday

At Eagle River, Service and West

Thursday’s results

Division I Boys

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Dimond 2, No. 8 Eagle River 0

No. 4 South 2, No. 5 Lathrop 1

No. 6 Colony 3, No. 3 West Valley 0

No. 2 West 2, No. 7 Service 1 (shootout)

Friday’s games

Consolation

Eagle River vs. Lathrop, 9 a.m. at Eagle River

West Valley vs. Service, 1 p.m. at Eagle River

Semifinals

Dimond vs. South, 7 p.m. at Service

Colony vs. West, 7 p.m. at West

Division I Girls

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Dimond 6, No. 8 Wasilla 0

No. 5 Service 1, No. 4 Lathrop 0

No. 6 Chugiak 2, No. 3 West 1

No. 2 South 2, No. 7 West Valley 1

Friday’s games

Consolation

Wasilla vs. Lathrop, 11 a.m. at Eagle River

West Anchorage vs. West Valley, 3 p.m. at Eagle River

Semifinals

Dimond vs. Service, 5 p.m. at Service

Chugiak vs. South, 5 p.m. at West

Division II Boys

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Juneau-Douglas 5, No. 8 Soldotna 0

No. 5 Kenai Central 1, No. 4 Ketchikan 0

No. 3 Thunder Mt. 3, No. 6 Palmer 1

No. 2 Grace Christian 4, No. 7 North Pole 1

Friday’s games

Consolation

Soldotna vs. Ketchikan, 11 a.m. at Service

Palmer vs. North Pole, 11 a.m. at West

Semifinals

Juneau-Douglas vs. Kenai Central, 3 p.m. at Service

Thunder Mt. vs. Grace Christian, 3 p.m. at West

Division II Girls

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Juneau-Douglas 6, No. 8 Houston 0

No. 5 North Pole 5, Ketchikan 0

No. 3 Homer 1, No. 6 Kenai Central 0

No. 2 Grace Christian 2, No. 7 Soldotna 1

Friday’s games

Consolation

Houston vs. Ketchikan, 9 a.m. at Service

Kenai Central vs. Soldotna, 9 a.m. at West

Semifinals

Juneau-Douglas vs. North Pole 1 p.m. at Service

Homer vs. Grace Christian, 1 p.m. at West



Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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