Lehnhart scores goal in D3 national championship game

December 16, 2015
Jackson Lehnhart soccer

Jackson Lehnhart

Jackson Lehnhart of Juneau swallowed his pride when he joined the Amherst College soccer team three years ago.

The big-time goal scorer in high school was moved to center back, a defense-minded position where his new job was to prevent goals.

For 40 career games the junior didn’t score a goal.

Then Amherst advanced to this month’s NCAA D3 national championship game and he rediscovered his knack for finding the back of the net – on a header, no less.

Lehnhart, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, scored the tying goal in the 14th minute to help Amherst beat Loras 2-1 in Kansas City, Missouri.

“It’s a pretty unbelievable feeling,” he told me. “Throughout my time at Amherst we’ve been really successful but have never been able to break past the Sweet 16/Elite 8 weekend.

“It’s always been our goal to end the season with a win but it’s always been kind of this intangible thing. To actually achieve it is something special and something that I will never forget.”

The moment was made even better with his father, Gary, in attendance.

“It was pretty awesome that my dad was able to make up for the final,” Lehnhart said. “To get to celebrate the win with him was pretty special.”

Pops witnessed his son’s signature moment – a sensational header into the top left corner off a corner kick from Luke Nguyen.

“The goal is still something I have a hard time explaining,” Lehnhart said. “I was ableto get an edge on the guy that was marking me. I was able to beat him near post and Luke played a nice near-post ball that I got a head on.

“I think in any moment like that you just have to play your role. And for me that has been the name of the game my whole career here.”

Even after his first goal in college, Lehnhart has no plans to lobby for more chances in set pieces in an attempt to score again. He has accepted his new role and has no regrets.

“My role in high school was complete opposite of what it is now,” he said. “My role now as center back is to keep the ball out of the net and that has been a transition that I’ve truly enjoyed.”