The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears held ball possession when it mattered most in their 2-0 win over Ketchikan during the ASAA DII Boys Soccer State semifinal, Friday, at West Anchorage High School.
Despite early field strength and ball control by Kayhi, the Crimson Bears withstood numerous shots behind a defense led by senior Will Robinson and junior keeper Alex Mallott to strike first.
“We needed him (Mallott) to be steady and he was steady,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “Those shots by Ketchikan are the shots we want. We would rather have teams taking those 30 yards and try to chip it like that instead of goalkeepers trying to make diving saves to the left or the right.”
JDHS sophomore Amir Parker made the Kayhi keeper dive left, right, and back again by putting two fancy ball maneuvers against the Kayhi defenders and ripped a shot from 15 yards out that scorched past the Kings keeper for a 1-0 Crimson Bears lead 21 minutes into the first half.
“He’s hurt and I barely played him in the first round game,” said Lehnhart. “I played him, then took him out after 10 minutes to give him a three or four minute rest then put him back in. Our offense is definitely better with him in there. No question. He’s a dangerous player. He just adds to our offense, both from a passing standpoint and a shooting standpoint.”
JDHS earned a throw-in at the 30 minute mark and scored on a body shot by junior Xavier Melancon for 2-0 in the first half.
“It is exactly what we have been working on for the last month, every day,” said Lehnhart. “We have been the kind of team that has been creating lots of opportunities, lots of free kicks and cornerbacks and throw ins and we just have been really struggling to put them in the net.”
Senior Kean Buss had the throw in to senior Tayten Bennetsen who headed it to Melancon for the score.
Melancon was award the teams WWE Belt Award for the goal.
“That’s what we are trying to get, guys being willing to hit it in however,” said Lehnhart.
Kayhi had their own opportunities in the first half.
Kayhi’s Joseph Larson put a shot just wide seven minutes into action.
JDHS’ Mallott saved a Kayhi power shot at the 24-minute mark and then held off corner kicks from both the right and left side of the pitch as the Kings continued to hold some possession of the first half.
“It was really windy,” said Lehnhart. “Whoever had the wind was going to have the run of play because it was just so hard to get it out of your end. They chose to take the wind in the first half, they won the flip, I would have done the other. We were happy with that. The fact that we were up against the wind I thought we still did a good job of continuing to possess the ball and at least hold our own.”
Neither team found the net in the second half as both sides marked the field well and keepers played solid in their boxes.
JDHS’ Mallott showcased his season-long abilities in the box with a last save at the 75 minute mark on a leaping catch of a powerful Kayhi shot.
A penalty kick in stoppage time by JDHS went wide right.
JDHS’ Robinson was rewarded for his entire game of defensive work with the ASAA Player Of The Game honors.
“Will was just stellar on defense,” said Lehnhart. “He also gave us some offensive moments. He has really improved a lot since he has come out of the back line and is kind of playing a hybrid defender and attacker. I thought Kean Buss also had a heck of a game, just in the center of the field. Kai (Ciambor) was just unlucky, he got fouled in the box and was good too.”
JDHS will play at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, against Soldotna in the championship game at West Anchorage High School. No. 3 seed Soldotna defeated No. 2 seed Palmer 2-1 Friday.
Ketchikan falls into the 9:45 a.m. consolation game, Saturday, at Service High School against Palmer for third/fifth place.