Members of the JDHS boys soccer team help junior Callan Smith celebrate a goal in the season opener against TMHS Tuesday night. In the end, TMHS walked away with a 3-2 victory. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)

High school boys soccer returns

TMHS bests JDHS in first game since 2019

After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last spring’s boy’s soccer season, the steady cold rain falling Tuesday night didn’t dampen the enthusiasm as crosstown high school rivals Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé took the field for their first match-up since 2019.

TMHS carried the night with a final score of 3- 2 after scoring two goals in the last six minutes of play.

Tuesday was the season-opener for JDHS. Earlier this month, TMHS beat Ketchikan twice in a row, winning 7-0 and 3-1.

“It’s great to be outside and seeing kids being active again. It’s been almost two year years since most of them have played soccer consistently, and I’m glad and appreciative that we have the option to play this year,” said Timothy Lewis, coach at TMHS.

JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart agreed that being back on the pitch changes dynamics.

“It feels good to be back with people. Even though we’ve been training since the fall, there’s something different about being outside and everyone being together. In the winter, we trained with social distance, which was weird. Being outside feels closer to normal.”

Girls soccer seasons off to energetic start

Skipped season leaves questions

With a long pause on play, both coaches are curious about how the season will unfold.

Lehnhart said that JDHS’s roster is stacked with a younger crew.

“The first game of any season is always a mystery,” Lehnhart said. “This year is very different because we went a whole year where we didn’t play anything, and I’ve never seen most of the team in a game. But, everyone is dealing with that. We have a strong junior class and a talented sophomore class.”

“We have quite a few sophomores starting for us,” Lehnhart said, adding that his team only has two seniors due to injuries. “We lost senior Forrest Davis to a knee injury. He was a leader for us.”

Lehnhart said that junior Tias Carney provides a presence in the middle and helps to lead the team.

“This program has a long history, and our goal is always the state tournament,” Lehnhart said. “I’m really pleased with the way the group is practicing and how they get along.”

State pushes for university land grant transfer

By contrast, the TMHS team is heavy on experienced players. But the team has been thwarted by a snow-covered field, limited practice opportunities because of COVID quarantine requirements last week, and a smaller roster compared to historical norms.

TMHS senior Logan Miller dribbles past JDHS sophomore Kean Buss Tuesday evening. The game, played on the Falcon's home turf, was the first time the crosstown rivals have faced off since 2019 after COVID-19 canceled the 2019 season. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

“This year will be a lesson on doing more with less,” Lewis said. One month into the season, we’ve had only two full soccer practices on a fully cleared soccer field. However, this is the most technically and tactically proficient team I’ve been privileged to be a part of since I’ve been working with the TMHS boys program.”

Lewis said the technical proficiency spans all grade levels.

“The team has quality players front to back on all grade levels, which is a blessing,” Lewis said.

He added that the team includes a solid group of players who would have been four-year starters — save the pandemic — including, Gavin Gende, Logan Miller and Elias West. He said that junior starters Wallace Adams, Talon Briggs and Phillip Lam help drive the team.

Like JDHS, the team is looking to the state tournament in late May.

“The kids want to make it back to the state tournament again. About half of the team got their first taste, and TMHS Boys soccer program’s first appearance, at the state tournament back in 2019. They are still hungry to show the rest of Alaska what they are capable of,” Lewis said.

He continued: “These kids have faced a lot of obstacles this year. From remote schooling to a shortened season, limited travel, limited practice times and spaces, quarantine, Zoom game film review sessions, to the never-ending snow and the shoveling of said snow, these kids have done admirably, and I’m proud of them. They have taken everything in stride.”

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

More in Sports

Thunder Mountain High School’s Thomas Baxter (#33) takes a shot under the basket against Ketchikan High School’s Jonathan Scoblic during Saturday’s game at TMHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Fit to be tied: TMHS and Ketchikan split weekend games, leaving all Southeast region teams at .500

Falcons and JDHS, after splitting games last week, face each other again on Friday and Saturday.

A female varied thrush pauses to look around during her foraging bout. (Photo by Helen Unruh)
On the Trails: Early signs of spring

The ground is heavily blanketed with snow. The snow berms in my… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Kerra Baxter (#22) tries to penetrate Colony High School’s defense during Saturday’s game at TMHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
No. 4 TMHS girls, hit by injuries and illness, can’t keep up with No. 2 Colony

Falcons recover from 71-31 rout Friday, keep Saturday’s game even until fourth quarter in 57-48 loss.

Brenda William-See attempts a fast-break layup for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Thursday’s game against Colony High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS girls take early lead, but lose at home to No. 2 Colony 73-20

No. 4 THMS plays visting Knights at home Friday and Saturday.

A man walks a Fairbanks street during an ice-fog episode in January 2012. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Ice fog not often a part of northern life

An old friend — a character not seen in these parts for… Continue reading

Samuel Lockhart (#14) of Thunder Mountain High School tries to get past Sean Oliver of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Wednesday night’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
TMHS, JDHS boys’ basketball teams get dominant victories on each other’s courts

Crimson Bears win 64-45 on Tuesday, Falcons rebound to prevail 56-35 on Wednesday.

The Department of Fish and Game will release great adventure permission slips on Friday. The author tagged along on a hunt in 2023 and it ended up being a highlight. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: The wait is almost over

Clarity comes on Friday. It won’t be one that really makes or… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior Mila Hargrave (24) shoots under pressure from Thunder Mountain High School senior Ashlyn Gates (2) as JDHS sophomore Gwen Nizich (15) blocks out TMHS junior Cailynn Baxter (23) during the Crimson Bears 42-28 loss to the Falcons on Feb. 3 at the George Houston Gymnasium. The two teams split games during the weekend. (Klas Stolpe/Juneau Empire file photo)
THMS girls basketball rank fourth, boys fifth in first ASR/Class 4A Coaches Poll

Falcons only team ranked in both polls; both JDHS teams among those “also receiving votes.”

Thunder Mountain High School’s Kara Strong keeps the ball away from Ketchikan High School’s Kylie Brendible during Saturday night’s game at TMHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
TMHS girls weather challenge from Ketchikan, prevail with two more wins

Falcons, now 15-1, prepare for test of state supremacy against 16-2 Colony at home this weekend.

Most Read