Thunder Mountain High School senior Cierra McCain scored two goals in the senior class’s final high school game Tuesday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Barring a remarkable second-half goal by Juneau-Douglas High School freshman Taylor Bentley, it would’ve been enough to secure a win over the Crimson Bears.
Instead, the crosstown rivals tied, and JDHS now prepares for the state soccer tournament next weekend. Before that, they’ll head south to play two games against Ketchikan High School on Friday and Saturday. The Crimson Bears secured the Southeast Conference’s single state tournament berth with its May 7 win over TMHS.
JDHS senior Marlena Romanoff, one of seven seniors honored for Senior Night, scored in the 15th minute before McCain’s electrifying goals in the 21st and 28th minutes.
TMHS sophomore keeper Karson Sutak posted 16 saves, including 11 in the second half, but couldn’t do much with Bentley’s rocket goal in the 48th minute.
Junior Nikki Box went off with a red card in the first half, and JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry was down a player for the entire second half.
“Kudos to the girls to play a player down and I think that stats show we were giving it our best effort in that second half,” Dusenberry said.
TMHS coach John Newell says he’s coached most of his senior class since the time they entered middle school. He said it’s a bit emotional now that he won’t get to coach them anymore.
“It’s just fun to see a good game like that and have all the girls come out and play that hard,” Newell said.
The Crimson Bears graduate seven seniors, four of which are in their first year with the program. The seniors are Romanoff, Gillian Smith, Leah Bibb, Bianca Eagan, Morgan Balovich, Cassie Dzinich and Katja Steinmann.
The Falcons graduate Raye Coffee, Azure Briggs, Kalib Lewis, Ronnie Salter, Anna Rivest, Sienna Hanna, Kayla Duncan and Kalib Lewis.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports at @akempiresports.
Coach Matt Dusenberry’s comments on senior class
Gillian Smith — This is Gillian’s first year with JDHS junior varsity, primarily playing the center back position, and having some time at the right wing position where she scored her first goal of the season against Palmer. Playing center back can be a high-pressure position to play, but Gillian has handled it with such a calm demeanor, being able to clear balls from the back on numerous occasions. We wish Gillian all the best as she pursues biology and French as a pre-med student.
Leah Bibb — This is Leah’s first year with JDHS junior varsity, having played the wing and striker positions. Not having played the sport for many years, it was understandable that Leah would step onto the pitch with nervousness. But Leah perseveres and doesn’t give up, which are characteristics you love to see from a coaching perspective. We wish Leah the best with plans to pursue accounting with the University of Idaho.
Marlena Romanoff — This is Marlena’s fourth year with JDHS, the last three with varsity. Marlena has played the 10, wingback, the 6, and this season, one of our wingers. Having to overcome several season-ending injuries, Mar has shown a lot of heart by giving her all in her final season. We wish Mar all the best with her plan to study pre-med.
Bianca Eagan — This is Bianca’s second year with JDHS junior varsity, primarily playing the wing and wingback positions. A co-captain this season for JV, Bianca has been a leader by example, exemplifying determination, hustle, and grace under pressure. We wish Bianca all the best with her plans to attend Brown University and study chemistry or pre-law.
Morgan Balovich — This is Morgan’s first year with JDHS. The JV team lacked a goalkeeper, so when they learned that Morgan was willing to step up, the team was forever grateful. Morgan never played goalkeeper before, but her background with basketball and softball made it a perfect fit as she brought soft hands, great eye-hand coordination, and body positioning. We wish Morgan the best in her worldly travels as well as her plan to attend Fort Lewis University in Colorado.
Cassie Dzinich — Cassie played two years for JDHS, her first year with JV, then becoming a swing player for both JV and varsity her second year. Due to an injury, Cassie was unable to play for us in her final season. We sorely miss Cassie’s athleticism, strong work ethic, and competitive fire. We wish Cassie nothing but the best in what life has to offer.
Katja Steinmann — This is Katja’s first year with JDHS, playing the 10 for junior varsity, and the wingback position for varsity. Katja is a very versatile player—her ability to pass has led to multiple assists on goals, her ability to strike a ball has helped us out on set pieces and corner kicks, and her ability to score led to a hat trick in a JV game against Palmer. We will miss Katja’s soccer IQ, field vision, and giving 100 percent every time she steps onto the pitch. We wish Katja all the best in her future endeavors.