It’s been a long time since Ketchikan High School soccer has beaten Juneau-Douglas High School. How long? Long enough that neither team’s coach remembers exactly when the last upset occurred.
“It’s been like 10 years or something,” Kayhi coach Dave Mitchel said.
“I don’t know, (it’s been) a while. … It’s quite surprising to me that it hasn’t happened sooner,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said.
A 1-0 Kayhi win broke that streak Friday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Speedy junior Mark Jasper made the difference in the 46th minute when he received a throw to the right of the penalty box from Kayhi senior Izaak Jensen.
Jasper dribbled past a pair of Crimson Bear defenders and beat backup keeper Mitchell McDonald with a point-blank shot to the right side of the net.
“It just felt like it was slow motion, kind of,” Jasper said.
JDHS held the lion’s share of possession in the first half, but missed its two clearest chances: a Tulio Fontanella penalty kick which sailed high and wide, and a corner kick header from senior Ben Campbell which hit the crossbar.
Jasper’s unassisted goal just minutes into the second 40-minute period invigorated the Kayhi attack. The Kings, smelling blood, kept up pressure for the next 20 minutes, trading trips to the final third with JDHS.
As the clock ticked down, JDHS threw players forward, and Kayhi parked their 11 players behind the ball for the final 15 anxious minutes.
When the clock struck 00:00, Ketchikan celebrated one of its finer wins in program history.
The upset is in the books. Kayhi 1, Juneau-Douglas 0. pic.twitter.com/c8sH1rlmg7— Empire Sports (@akempiresports) May 12, 2018
“It feels awesome,” Jasper said.
Many Ketchikan athletes choose basketball, baseball or wrestling, sports at which the First City consistently excels. But Ketchikan isn’t known for its large club soccer scene, Mitchel said, and it’s a big win for his experienced squad, which boasts 10 seniors.
“I feel real good for the seniors. They’ve been working hard and we don’t have the club soccer or the prep programs. But really, this group of kids loves soccer,” Mitchel said.
Soccer matches can hinge on a precious few plays. Lehnhart told his squad not to overreact to what a Kayhi win.
“Soccer matches often go strange ways, and you have to give Ketchikan credit. They played a good match, they got the lead and they defended it,” he said.
Ketchikan had been challenging its Southeast Conference opponents the past several years, but couldn’t break through with a win, or even a tie, before Friday. In their last four meetings before Friday’s contest, Kayhi knocked on the door of the six-time state champion JDHS squad with 1-0, 3-2, 3-1 and 2-0 losses.