Anchorage — For more than a half Thursday, the undefeated Dimond girls tested and probed, searching for some way to penetrate a reinforced South defense that had not broken and had barely even bent.
All it got the Lynx was a one-goal deficit.
Yet even after falling behind when South scored early in the second half, Dimond didn't panic.
Instead, the Lynx prospered, quickly forging a tie that forced overtime, when they struck twice and turned back the Wolverines, 3-1, in the opening round of the state soccer tournament at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium in Chugiak.
"To me, it was really scary,'' said Dimond forward Ariela Lewis. "It felt like we needed to step up our game. We just needed to collect ourselves.''
Lewis scored the tying goal in regulation and furnished the go-ahead goal in the first of two 10-minute overtime periods. Her twin sister, Aaliyah Lewis, assisted on the game-winning goal and drew the foul that led to Bobby Pendleton's insurance goal on a penalty kick.
Pendleton, who assisted on Ariela Lewis' game-tying goal, said Thursday marked just the second time in 15 games this season the Lynx have trailed. Still, the defender seems preternaturally calm, and she said there was no reason for the Lynx to get jumpy just because they trailed 1-0 with more than 30 minutes left in regulation.
"Just stick together,'' Pendleton said of Dimond's philosophy. "We have time. There wasn't any rush.''
South earned its 1-0 lead seven minutes into the second half when Morgan Hooe delivered one of her patented long throw-ins -- this one traveled a good 30 yards into the box -- and Hannah Andress slipped the ball inside the left post.
The Wolverines to that point had stymied the Lynx with a strong, four-player backline anchored by Hooe and Keely Jelinek. Hooe, a leaper who will play volleyball at UAA next season, won pretty much every ball in the air near her, and she and Jelinek continually cleared the ball from danger.
The aim, Hooe said, was to try to make the entire Dimond team beat them instead of allowing the Lewis sisters to dominate with their speed and tenacity.
"We were trying to put experience on experience, and I'm proud of the job we did,'' Hooe said. "Our game plan was to have their whole team perform, not just the twins.''
Pendleton said South's tactic proved wily. And Ariela Lewis said it flummoxed the Lynx for a while.
"Morgan Hooe, she's amazing in the air, so we realized we couldn't play it over the top,'' Ariela Lewis said. "And she's quick, so we couldn't slot it near her. And Keely is amazing too.''
To counter South, Ariela Lewis said, Dimond tightened the space between its forwards and midfielders, tried to make shorter, crisper passes and aimed to avoid Hooe in particular.
Dimond got back on even terms with South a dozen minutes after Andress' strike. After a corner kick, chaos ensued in front of the South goal, where so many players from both teams were jammed in the box frantically trying to play the ball it looked like bees on a hive.
Pendleton, who had come forward for the corner kick, stayed outside the fray -- "Why have everyone run to the same spot?'' she asked -- and recovered the ball about 15 to 20 yards from the net. She spotted Ariela Lewis making a short run and delivered a pass that Lewis swept into the net for a 1-1 tie.
Very early in the first 10-minute overtime, Aaliyah Lewis centered a pass to Ariela, who pivoted to her left and booted a shot that earned Dimond a 2-1 lead.
Four minutes later, Aaliyah Lewis was taken down from behind, which gained the Lynx a penalty shot. Pendleton took the shot from the spot, taking a meandering run-up to the ball and curling a shot into the top right corner of the net for a 3-1 cushion.
Dimond, which has surrendered goals in just four of its matches this season, improved to 15-0.
"The whole game, we really had faith,'' Ariela Lewis said. "We just needed to hold it together and produce some goals.''
Service 5, Thunder Mountain 0
Haleigh Van Allen figured in four goals Thursday to spark Service to a 5-0 opening-round win over Thunder Mountain at Eagle River.
Van Allen generated a hat trick and an assist.
Rachel Juliussen and Madasin Jennings added goals for the Cougars, and Trysten Bailey earned the shutout.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.