The Juneau-Douglas High School boy’s soccer team is off to a good start on the road in Washington, playing to ties against Spokane soccer powers Ferris and Mead over the weekend.
The Crimson Bears had to battle back from an early deficit against the Ferris Saxons on Friday.
Senior Jackson Lehnhart had an early shot on goal hit a sprinkler head and deflected into the cross bar.
The Saxons then went on a scoring binge, tallying at the four-minute mark, the 13-minute, 27th minute and on a last second shot before the half.
“We were a pretty discouraged bunch coming off the field,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “We looked like a beaten bunch at halftime. Our goal keeper had kind of taken a challenge and was knocked down, things weren’t looking very good, but we regrouped.”
Conditions varied from sunny to rain on the field and the Crimson Bears switched into all season mode.
Senior Jackson Lehnhart played a through ball to junior Nick Stewart who knocked it away for a score just two minutes into the second half.
Lehnhart was taken down minutes later and scored on a penalty kick to cut the lead in half.
“You could see the momentum beginning to change,” Lehnhart said. “And literally seconds later we had another good chance.”
Junior Justin Bellagh played a ball through to Lehnhart to make the score 4-3 Ferris.
The Crimson Bears put good pressure on the Saxons through to the end and on the 75th minute Lehnhart played a ball to Stewart who tied the score.
“In the first half the bounces didn’t seem to go our way,” Lehnhart said. “In the second half we got a couple defensive bounces that went to our keeper and it started to build our confidence. It was a big moment for a lot of the kids who were questioning how young our team was.”
Lehnhart stated this year’s JHDS team is the youngest he has ever had, but the reason they schedule this road trip is to introduce the Crimson Bears to a higher speed of play and technical precision.
“They saw first hand how much faster the speed of play was down here,” Lehnhart said. “They could have easily been overwhelmed by it but they stepped up their game. That is why we come down here.”
Lehnhart credited senior Stuart Thurston with playing an end-to-end defensive game that amazed, not only the opponents, but also the officials. One referee stated Thurston should be in track.
“I don’t know if I have seen a player put out more on the field in terms of just effort,” Lehnhart said. “There were a couple times in the second half when Ferris was going to put the game away and Stuart just refused to let it happen. It was a great example for our younger kids to see that level of commitment and play by him… and by Jackson and Nick.”
On Saturday the Crimson Bears played to a 1-1 tie with the Mead Panthers.
The Crimson Bears missed a few early shots with the wind in the scoreless first half and had to play into the wind in the second.
Defensively, the Crimson Bears were playing much stronger at the back position, getting solid work by senior Marc Heifetz, junior Ethan Seid and sophomore Ben Scudder. Goalie Hunter Pegues also played a solid game.
Mead scored first, midway through the half.
Jackson Lehnhart connected with Stewart again in this contest, playing a ball through that Stewart nestled into the net at the 68th minute.
“We were subbing a lot and got good minutes from our reserves,” Lehnhart said. “Stewart was really patient on the ball. He pulled it back out and beat another defender and knocked it in.”
Pegues saved a shot as time ran out to preserve the tie.
JDHS plays at Seattle’s Roosevelt high at 4 p.m. on Monday and at Bellevue’s Newport High School at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.