The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé soccer teams — both boys and girls — are justly proud of their wins in the state championship, bringing home the DII titles.
But for a moment, said boys coach Gary Lehnhart, that win against Thunder Mountain High School looked iffy at best.
“The kids are super excited. But it was the way in which it happened. I’ve been in a lot of these (championships), something like 16. That might have been the most exciting one,” Lehnhart said in an interview. “I think the fact that we were down two and playing so poorly that it was unlikely.”
A serious injury to one of the players resulting in a roster shake-up left the team playing at less than optimum, Lehnhart.
“We were down 1-0 at the half, not playing pretty well,” Lehnhart said.
TMHS scored again soon after the half, Lehnhart, leaving the Crimson Bears down by two, until graduating senior Tias Carney began the team’s fightback.
“I’ve been in games where we’re pretty even. It was 2-0 and it was not an even game. We were not playing well,” Lehnhart said. “If you’d have asked me 30 seconds before Tias took that run I’d have said (odds of success were) maybe 10 percent.”
Carney took a run and scored, Lehnhart said.
“Tias Carney saved it,” Lehnhart said. “Something must have got Tias going because I think he just decided this is not the way he’s going out.”
After Carney put up the team’s first goal, the team seemed to feel the wind in its sails once more, Lehnhart said. Freshman Kai Ciambor scored three times in the final 20 minutes to cement the comeback from the brink and to win the state title for JDHS, Lehnhart said.
“It picked up after that. We started to play much better,” Lehnhart said. “(Ciambor scored) three straight goals, each one more impressive than the previous one.”
The team’s defense gave them that chance, Lehnhart said, including sophomore Alex Mallott, recently taking over as the goalkeeper.
“Our defense played pretty well all day long. Our goalkeeper did especially well, which is impressive, because he’s new to the job,” Lehnhart said. “He’s only going to get better.”
Tias Carney, Will Robinson and Kai Ciambor were named all-tournament, Lehnhart.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.