Spend a few minutes with players on the Dimond boys soccer team and it's easy to see the Lynx are enjoying themselves, ribbing one another good-naturedly and brimming with confidence.
"We are all a big family," senior team captain Austin Portch said. "It's fun just playing with these guys."
Take a look at what the Lynx have accomplished this season and it's easy to see why.
Through last weekend's Cook Inlet Conference tournament, which they won, the Lynx have outscored opponents 110-7 on their way to a 17-1 record. When the state tournament begins Thursday at Dimond High and Chugiak High, the top-seeded Lynx are the team to beat.
"This team's definitely one of the best I've ever played with," said senior Michael Sedor, Alaska's Gatorade player of the year.
Much of the team's success can be attributed to a core group of 10 seniors, but there are also talented underclassmen in the mix, like Sedor's younger brother Jack.
"He's adorable," Michael said with a laugh.
Some of the seniors like to pick on the younger Sedor, who is a freshman, but they are well aware of what the attacking center adds to the team.
"He's just got it," Michael said. "He's well-rounded as a player and he's a hard worker."
Playing with his brother has been a highlight of the season for Michael, and the Sedor brothers are a driving force in an offensive system that rarely allows the opposition to gain control of the ball. Opponents' heads spin as the Lynx pass the ball rapidly from one player to the next.
"We have a good chemistry," Jack said. "We just know how each other plays. We know each other's tendencies."
When the offense is really clicking, the ball rarely crosses into Dimond's half of the field, but junior defender Matt Froehlich said he doesn't mind the lack of pressure.
"It's fun watching them go out there and score all those goals," he said.
The one match in which Dimond's defense allowed more than one goal led to the team's only loss of the season, a 2-1 loss to South earlier this month. Though the loss stung the Lynx, it may have been exactly what the team needed to regain a little perspective.
"We're more humbled," Froehlich said.
South is easily Dimond's biggest rival -- the Lynx lost to the Wolverines in the semifinals of last year's state tournament, while Dimond beat South in the last two CIC title matches. Of Dimond's two victories decided by fewer than three goals this season, both were one-goal wins over South.
If both South and Dimond win in Thursday's opening round, they'll meet for the fourth time this season, in a Friday semifinal at Dimond High.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Boys Thursday (seedings in parentheses) West Valley (3) vs. West (6), 1 p.m., Dimond Wasilla (4) vs. South (5), 1 p.m., Chugiak Dimond (1) vs. Homer (8), 5 p.m., Dimond Juneau Douglas (2) vs. Colony (7), 5 p.m., Chugiak Girls Thursday (seedings in parentheses) Soldotna (2) vs. Grace Christian (7), 11 a.m. Chugiak West Valley (3) vs. Kenai (6), 11 a.m., Dimond Dimond (1) vs. Service (8), 3 p.m. Dimond Juneau-Douglas (4) vs. South (5), 3 p.m., ChugiakState soccer tournaments
By JEREMY PETERS
Anchorage Daily News