Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas girls soccer team returned to normal on Thursday: an early morning wake-up call for the airport, a two-hour plane trip, a four-hour bus trip, a win on the road and a bus trip to a hotel.
“It is always tough to get a win on a traveling day,” Juneau-Douglas coach Matt Dusenberry said. “And these kids haven’t gotten to travel in several years.”
Of course, the old normal has a few new tweaks, such as schooling by Zoom, wearing masks and staying in their travel bubble, but the Crimson Bears took it all in stride and won 4-0 against the host Soldotna Stars, a team they last played for the 2019 state championship in the last season soccer was not canceled.
“Soldotna was definitely pumped to play us because the last time we played was the championship game,” Dusenberry said. “They were looking for a little revenge or (to) at least see where they are.”
2019 was also the season that Juneau-Douglas senior Taylor Bentley was selected to the All-State Tournament team as a sophomore, and revenge was not something she or her teammates would allow.
Bentley scored first Thursday against the current Peninsula Conference leaders in the 36th minute with an assist from junior Blake Plummer.
Dusenberry said the play was a give-and-go-situation with Bentley hitting a “cracker” of a shot from 25 yards out and placed into the upper corner of the net.
Plummer then scored on a similar play. In the 38th minute, junior Kyla Bentz returned a pass to Plummer who took it, turned her defender and put the shot on frame and into the net.
Plummer would score twice in the second half.
Bentley was fouled 25 yards out of the Soldotna goal and awarded a free kick. After a conversation with Plummer, Bentley allowed the junior to take the honors.
The Soldotna Stars set up a defensive wall and the keeper set up to protect her area.
“Blake put a little spin on it and it actually spun around the outside of the keeper’s hands and then floated back in,” Dusenberry said. “Just enough to go into the upper corner. It was a fantastic free kick.”
Plummer also had an unassisted goal in the 77th minute, picking the ball from a Soldotna defender and attacking the Stars’ goal.
The Crimson Bears next play at Kenai on Friday and at Nikiski on Saturday. The state coronavirus alert level for the Kenai Peninsula area is intermediate.
“We’ve got nothing else to do because we can’t go anywhere really,” Dusenberry said. “Now that technology allows them to do school from afar, they’ll be Zooming in and doing school tomorrow. The smiling faces the entire day has been awesome to see, the fact that we have been able to go.”
The girls smiled through masks from 5:30 a.m. at the Juneau International Airport, to Anchorage, where they boarded a Kenai School District bus and headed past the Turnagain Arm spit, took a right at Moose Pass and went past Cooper Landing and Funny River.
“We stopped at Cooper Landing’s Wildmans, I think it was a laundry mat-fish shop,” Dusenberry said. “Somewhere to go to the bathroom, then to our hotel in Kenai, then back to Soldotna to play.”
That old normal trip used to be a pain in the lower jersey.
“We were just happy with whatever came to us,” Dusenberry said. “The kids are having a blast. It is really nice to see them smiling with their masks on, you can still see it ear-to-ear for sure.”