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Season-opening soccer series canceled


Daily News Sports Editor

Two snow-covered fields in Juneau have forced the Ketchikan High School soccer teams to wait another week before facing outside competition.

Kayhi’s season-opening series at Thunder Mountain High School — scheduled for Thursday and Friday — was postponed Monday, when recent snowfall still clung to Juneau’s turf soccer fields.

"We’ve got snow on the ground right now (on Tuesday)," said Juneau School District Activities Manager Sandi Wagner, who oversees athletics at both Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas.

Wagner said snow at the end of March is common in Juneau, which made her hesitant to schedule the series in the first place.

Unlike in Ketchikan, where sand-and-gravel Walker Field can be used as a replacement if Esther Shea Field is unplayable, both of Juneau’s soccer fields are turf.

As the date drew nearer and the snow continued to fall, it became increasingly apparent the series was in jeopardy.

"There was snow on the ground two weeks ago, and I told (Kayhi Activities Director Ed Klein) that things aren’t looking good,"?Wagner said. "He still wanted to wait and see, so the final decision was made Monday."

Klein said Wagner was notifying him of the conditions leading up to Monday, and that the fields were ultimately deemed unfit for play.

"I don’t think it’s as much of a safety issue. According to her, the field was just unplayable," Klein said.

The decision forced Klein to cancel Kayhi’s travel plans — Tuesday afternoon’s ferry ride north and the return flight home.

The teams plan to reschedule the games April 16-17, with Kayhi flying both ways midweek.

It costs more to fly both ways, and that doesn’t include any fees the teams might incur from canceling this week’s flight.

"There’s a significant potential cost to us,"?said Kings head coach Scott Brandt-Erichsen. "The rescheduling doesn’t bother me as much as the expense. If it ends up costing, say, $4,000 more than it would have, that’s $4,000 of additional fundraising work these kids and their families have to do."

According to Alaska Airlines policy, there is a fee of $100 per person for reservation changes on top of any other applicable fees and any difference in fare. The fee is lowered to $75 per passenger if the change is made on its website.

Klein said he hopes there won’t be any money lost.

"We have a group contract with (Alaska Airlines), and they are always really good about helping us out with things that are out of our control,"?he said.

If there are added costs, both coaches said they likely will be unable to bring their JV?teams as well, which they planned to do this week.

"Either that or we’d have to do a lot more fundraising," Brandt-Erichsen said. "At this point in the season, that’s tough to do."

Brandt-Erichsen added he received a photograph of one of the Juneau soccer fields earlier in the week.

"I could see green," he said.

Tuesday’s National Weather Service report for Juneau — while always subject to change — predicts Thursday will be partly cloudy with a high of 39, and Friday has a chance of rain with a high around 41 and snow likely at night.

Lady Kings coach David Mitchel said the decision was "definitely last-minute," but inclement weather and expensive travel are just some of the inherent challenges of playing sports in Southeast Alaska.

"Teams in Anchorage can play midweek games all the time, but we can’t really have that here,"?he said. "The weather plays a huge role, but it also makes it interesting. The sterile environment of playing indoor soccer doesn’t have the same element of surprise and thrill that playing outdoors does."

The Kings and Lady Kings now will open their seasons April 5-6 on the road against Sitka.