Cross-Town Girls Soccer Match Pits Top High School Players on Pitch

    Juneau-Douglas senior Taylor Bentley is marked by Thunder Mountain junior Kiah Dihle during action on Saturday. (Klas Stolpe)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - One of the state’s top high school offensive players faced one of the state’s top defenders in a cross-town girls soccer match where only team colors separated rosters featuring players who grew up on the same pitch.

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - One of the state’s top high school offensive players faced one of the state’s top defenders in a cross-town girls soccer match that did not disappoint and only team colors separated rosters featuring players who grew up on the same pitch.

      Juneau-Douglas High School Kalé topped Thunder Mountain 2-0 on Saturday at Falcons Field behind a key goal to start the second half by Crimson Bears senior Taylor Bentley who was marked the entire game by Falcons junior Kiah Dihle.

      Bentley scored at 1:05 on a dribble attack and said the game was intense.

      “It is just kind of like, I want to say a rivalry but, they definitely got really really hard against us and we go the same amount of hardness against them,” she said. “And a lot of people always show up because it is Juneau versus Juneau, so it is kind of nerve wracking. I definitely think it is going to be pretty close games just like today was against TM. They are definitely a really strong team and are good at possessing the ball so we just have to make sure to just keep calm and not just boot the ball every time we go up against them, just relax.”

      Dihle said she welcomed the challenge.

    “I am technically playing forward so I have to do a lot of getting back to get her,” Dihle said. “But we have played together for a couple years and I am used to how she plays so I don’t have to hard of a time getting back. She is aggressive but I don’t mind being aggressive back. Fun and friendly competition. Oh man, I don’t know but I like running.”

      Dihle said the team will try for more shots on goal next game.

    “And some more passing,” she said. “I think our team works really well together so we have a good shot in my opinion and the opinion of other people so we are really excited. I will try to mark Taylor a little harder.”

      Bentley found herself on the pitch a bit more than usual but responded by getting back into action quickly and sending more touch passes to the center of play.

      The Crimson Bears had her back as well, keeping the play at midfield when they weren’t helping senior keeper Jenae Pusich and junior keeper Zuri DeJean above the box.

      Juneau-Douglas freshman Cadence Plummer hit the game’s first goal at 9:10 of the first half on an assist from Bentley and Thunder Mountain senior captain Elizabeth (Ellie) Knapp had a chance to tie the score at 22:42 but just missed wide.

      Thunder Mountain senior Macey Fuette tried to sneak a direct kick over the forming JDHS wall at 32:25 of the second half but her shot went over the top of the goal by inches.

      “I think the game went as we expected, everybody in Juneau has been working really hard since two years ago and just getting better so we expected that it was going to be a great match and I think both teams did a great job,” Juneau-Douglas coach Matt Dusenberry said. “It was exciting to be a part of for sure.”

    Juneau-Douglas came out moving the ball well and being in position.

      “Then for a while there we kind of got flat and Thunder Mountain was taking it to us and we were bending but we didn’t break,” Dusenberry said.  And then I think after half we kind of corrected that and the kids starting recognizing that we needed to kind of open up and see things from left and right and have hips open and I think that paid dividends for us to be able then to keep the ball a little bit more because it is harder to get scored on when you have the ball.”

      Thunder Mountain coach John Newell said the team strategy was that they felt evenly matched.

      “The things that we talked about my team worked on,” he said. “We had them, we had those things there. We just didn’t finish them. Things were just off by a little bit. We had the runs that we wanted to make. We had the shots that we wanted. We had the positioning and the chances and we just didn’t convert them. Overall I am extremely happy with how my team played. We thought that it was going to be a good game. We knew it was going to be hard fought. All these girls have practiced and played together for years, so we knew what their team was going to be like, they knew what our team was going to be like and it showed on the field with the ball being played in the middle of the field most of the game. And then occasionally one team would break out and make a run one way or the other.

      Newell also said Dihle put more mileage on the field than anyone else, “Not only was she marking Taylor, but she was doing that from a forward position so her job was, basically, to be in front of our goal on defense and in front of their goal on offense and she did that. I asked her to let me know if she needed a sub and she never asked for one.”

       Falcons senior goal keeper Samantha Dilley made the defensive play of the game at the 34 minute mark of the second half when Crimson Bears junior forward Kyla Bentz has a breakaway attack on goal. Dilley came out and dove onto the shot for a save.

      “I was thinking I just got to come out, just got to attack,” Dilley said. “You know, just be aggressive and show them that we are here to play. We just realize that we are friends for life and we compete. That is just how it has always been. You know, local town where we all know each other, so we just compete with everything we have. We just play our game and we have it. We communicate well, we stay positive and we don’t get down on ourselves. So if we just play how we play in practice, we’ll get there.”

      Crimson Bears senior Jasmin Holst also was credited for her hard play.

      “Just staying calm and collected and trying to work together,” Holst said on her approach to the game. “It was kind of exciting, I was really nervous at first but once the game started you kind of get into it. Into the physical play. It kind of always is though. I think you kind of reciprocate the energy but not too much and kind of just don’t let it get into your head too much.”

      Next up for soccer is Tuesday night’s Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain boys match at TMHS (JV 5:15, V 7 p.m.). The JD and TM girls meet again on May 3 at Adair Kennedy (V 5:15, JV following).

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