Anchorage — After picking up their 15th straight win Tuesday at Dimond Alumni Field, the top-seeded Dimond flag football team was smiling, but the Lynx weren't celebrating anything yet.
They need two more wins to claim the Cook Inlet Conference championship for the fourth time in six seasons, and Tuesday's 20-0 win over eighth-seeded Bartlett was a good start.
"It helps give us some confidence going into our next game," Dimond's Haley Martin said. "We've had a perfect season thus far. Why ruin it?"
Dimond will play Eagle River, a 19-13 winner over East, in a Thursday semifinal at Dimond Alumni Field. The other semifinal will feature Service, which advanced with a 31-13 upset of Chugiak, and West, which pulled out a 26-25 overtime thriller over South.
Tara Thompson, who was named CIC offensive player of the year Tuesday, led Dimond with 85 yards on 11 carries, threw for one touchdown and ran for another. While happy to be voted the league's best offensive player, she said she is more focused on playing well as a team.
"You can't really run an offense all by yourself, so I give the credit to my team," said Thompson, a junior.
Dimond (15-0) has shut out six opponents this season and won by some big margins, but Bartlett (2-13) has the distinction of losing by the smallest margin to the Lynx, suffering a 14-13 defeat in the first meeting between the teams.
Bartlett coach Steve Stansbury thought the Golden Bears had a shot at winning Tuesday, but said a lack of focus early in the game did them in.
"I don't know what was going through their heads," he said. "Even the first kickoff you could tell, (they were) just not thinking about the game. Dimond's a very good team, so they test you on all sides and everybody's got to do their job."
Dimond used some big plays on offense and defense to score all its points in the first half. Vanessa Tufaga broke a 42-yard run to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Martin with nine minutes left in the first quarter, and then on the first play of Bartlett's next possession, Martin intercepted a Kiera Stokes pass on the Bartlett 24-yard line. Dimond converted the turnover into points with a 1-yard touchdown run from Thompson to go up 14-0.
"At that point, I felt confident," said Dimond coach Kathleen Navarre. "I thought 'This is what we need to do, we need to jump out and get a quick lead.' At that point I knew we could control the ball game."
The Golden Bears made some adjustments, Stansbury said, and moved the ball across midfield on their next drive. Just when it looked as though the Lynx might be fortunate to carry a two-touchdown lead into halftime, Thompson made an interception on the Dimond 35 with less than two minutes remaining in the half. A 38-yard run from Thompson on the next play sparked a quick scoring drive that ended with Thompson throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rachel Brady.
Whitney Jackson's seven pulls led the Dimond defense, which ruled the second half -- Bartlett never threatened to get back in the game. The Lynx used two pass rushers instead of the one they used in earlier games with Bartlett.
"Defense was the key," Navarre said. "My defense played a great game tonight."
West 27, South 26 (OT)
With a late fourth-quarter touchdown and a clutch touchdown and two-point conversion in overtime, West slipped by South 27-26 in a first-round CIC flag football playoff game at Dimond Alumni Field on Tuesday.
Maya McPhereson was the hero for the Eagles, catching a 10-yard pass from Dani Levine on the game's final play. The Eagles had the option of tying the game with a one-point conversion from the 3-yard line, but after huddling during a timeout, they chose to go for the win instead.
"We talked about it out there and the seniors said, 'Let's go for it,' " West coach Travis Cantrell said.
Overtime rules give each team one set of four downs from the 10-yard line. South scored seven points on its possession thanks to Sabrina Ungaro's second touchdown run of the game and a one-point conversion from Sarah Lundgren.
Ungaro and Lundgren each rushed for two touchdowns, and Julia Carmack grabbed two interceptions.
West tied the game 19-19 in the final minute of regulation on a 1-yard touchdown run by Levin, who followed with a 1-point conversion pass to Mimi Troxel.
Levine finished with 136 passing yards and two touchdown passes, both to Nicole Olsen.
Eagle River 19, East 13
Skylar Metzel caught two touchdown passes for Eagle River and deflected two East passes on fourth down to boost Eagle River to a 19-13 victory a first-round action at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium in Chugiak.
Lauren Frost connected twice with Metzel -- both times from 15 yards out -- for a 13-0 halftime lead and the Wolves hung on from there.
East cut the lead in half by returning the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. Eagle River got some breathing room with Alyssa Randall's 18-yard run with 2:20 left in the game, making it 19-7 and allowing the Wolves to survive an East touchdown in the game's waning moments.
Eagle River disrupted East's passing attack with the deflections by Skylar and an interception by Gaby Mordini.
Service 31, Chugiak 13
A pair of big interception returns propelled Service to a 31-13 first-round upset over Chugiak at Chugiak's Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.
The score was tied 13-13 when the Cougars got their first pick-six, a 20-yard return by Zoe Bailey that put Service in the lead for good.
The Cougars, who finished sixth in the eight-team conference during the regular season, sealed the victory in the fourth quarter on Hayleigh Van Allen's 60-yard interception return.
Service quarterback Stephanie Compton threw for more than 200 yards while firing touchdown passes to Bailey, Kerrianne Hansen and Mariah Williams.
Chugiak, third in the regular-season standings, got both of its touchdowns from Holly Brehmer, who scored on runs of 5 and 55 yards.
Thompson, Perez lead CIC picks
Dimond quarterback Tara Thompson and Chugiak linebacker Sam Perez won player-of-the-year honors in all-conference voting for the Cook Inlet Conference flag football team. Thompson was named offensive player of the year and Perez was the defensive player of the year.
Dimond, the regular-season champion, grabbed six first-team spots, with Thompson and Vanessa Tufaga making the team on both offense and defense.
All CIC flag football team
Offensive player of the year -- Tara Thompson, Dimond. Defensive player of the year -- Sam Perez, Chugiak. Coach of the year -- Travis Cantrell, West. Assistant coach of the year -- Brad Lauwers, Dimond.
First team offense -- Tara Thompson, quarterback, Dimond; Vanessa Tufaga, Dimond; Kalie Suellentrop, Dimond; Lauren Frost, quarterback, Eagle River; Holly Brehmer, running back, Chugiak; Nikki Kennedy, line/receiver, Chugiak; Carly Metcalf, center, Chugiak; Kaitly Miles, quarterback, East; Stephanie Compton, quarterback, Service; Myna Lincoln, Bartlett; Skylar Metzel, Eagle River; Sabrina Ungaro, South; Shiccia Harris-Grant, receiver, West; Nicole Olsen, tight end, West; Sabrina Ungaro, South.
First team defense -- Mariah Williams, linebacker, Service; Tara Thompson, Dimond; Gabby Coleman, Dimond; Vanessa Tufaga, Dimond; Sam Perez, linebacker, Chugiak; Monique Walker, linebacker, Bartlett; Gaby Mordini, Eagle River; Jakie Vongnarath, East; Synclaire Butler, East; Lagi Silao, East; Shannon Wilson, Service; Zoe Bailey, defensive back, Service; Morgan Heppner, cornerback, West; Mimi Troxel, linebacker, West; Anna Sophia Roberts, defensive end, West; Dani Levine, utility, West.
Second team offense -- Kiera Stokes, quarterback, Bartlett; Mikel Williams, running back, Bartlett; Sierra Mains, quarterback, South; Janissa Arzie, running back, Chugiak; Jessica Moore, Eagle River; Felila Manu, East; Daja Motuga, East; Haley Martin, Dimond; Rachel Brady, Dimond; Anna Sophia Roberts, running back, West.
Second team defense -- Whitney Jackson, Dimond; Haley Martin, Dimond; Brittany Bagsby, Dimond; Kylie Baker, defensive end, Chugiak; Hannah Bolin, Chugiak; Grace Woern, East; Scout Warners, Eagle River; Alyssa Randall, Eagle River; Leighan Gonzales, East; Keaira Caldarera, defensive back, Service; Mariah Williams, linebacker, Service; Danielle Poirier, center; Julia Carmack, South; Mimi Troxel, center, West; Shiccia Harris-Grant, linebacker, West; Grace Kubitz, defensive end, West; Gracen Hanley, center, West; Sammi McMullen, utility player, Chugiak; Ione Fischer, utility player, Dimond.