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Athletes of the Week: Juneau-Douglas soccer’s Bentz and Ciambor

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 8:27 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - One is a senior and one is a freshman, but both Juneau-Douglas soccer players will forever be known as champions.

Kyla Bentz

All Kyla Bentz does is win — and score goals. The Crimson Bears senior scored 10 goals during their three-game state tournament run this past weekend to help Juneau add yet another ASAA Division II State Soccer Championship trophy to their case.

“Really since our Anchorage trip at the end of April she has just been collecting goals left and right,” Juneau-Douglas girls soccer head coach Matt Dusenberry said. “Just something clicked for her to be able to put it into the back of the net and maybe relax a little bit rather than crack it.”

It’s an adjustment Bentz made when transitioning her focus from the ice to the pitch.

“They say that I play soccer like I play hockey, that’s one of my favorite things about myself,” said Bentz, who scored a goal in Juneau’s 3-0 win over Grace Christian in the championship game. “In the past, I have kind of been a little bit — I wouldn’t say out of control ... but just trying to mellow down my hockey play to my soccer play and it worked out this year and I think I really beat my own expectations of myself this year and it feels really good to end it like this.”

Bentz has only lost three total games throughout her high school career and won a state championship every year, excluding 2020 when the prep soccer season in Alaska was canceled altogether.

“It is my last one with my favorite team I have ever played with,” Bentz said. “This is a pretty big deal to end it with them. I am really glad I could do it with them.”

Bentz will attend the University of New England this fall and says she is unsure whether or not she will try out for the team, but is interested in playing club soccer.

Kai Ciambor

The Juneau-Douglas boys soccer club has 10 seniors on its roster but relied on the feet of a freshman to defeat Thunder Mountain 4-2 and secure the 2022 DII state championship.

“It was crazy, our whole team going into this knew that we wanted it, especially because our seniors got two years cut short from COVID, so this one just felt extra sweet,” Ciambor said after the game.

Trailing 2-1 in the second half, the Crimson Bears had a free-kick opportunity from about 25 yards out and could elect anyone to take the kick. The team put their trust in the foot of the freshman, who drilled the kick just below the cross-bar to tie the game.

“I said that I wanted it because I just felt it and I knew I could hit that shot, and so I knew that I wanted to put power on it and it just sailed to the top corner,” Ciambor said. “It feels amazing. From the get-go, our coach had a lot of faith in me and I knew I could step up to that challenge.”

But the freshman phenom wasn’t done yet, netting the game-winning and insurance goals to cap off the state championship with a hat trick.

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