For the second time in six days, 80 minutes of regulation did not separate the South and Dimond girls soccer teams.
Nor did 20 minutes of full overtime suffice.
Ditto for an additional 10 minutes of golden-goal overtime.
And so another match went to nerve-racking penalty kicks for the two Cook Inlet Conference sides Friday afternoon, when all that was at stake was, alternately, the prospect of delight or dejection, and a berth in the state high school championship match.
Unlike last Saturday, when Dimond won the shootout to seize the CIC title, this time the Wolverines delivered the upper hand -- well, the upper hands of goalkeeper Sarah Johnson and the upper feet, as it were, of its four successful shooters.
Defending state champion South won the semifinal 2-1 on the strength of a 4-2 advantage on penalty kicks at Dimond's Alumni Field, and victory advanced it into Saturday's championship match against West Valley, a 2-0 winner over Soldotna in the other semifinal.
South overcame a 1-0 deficit more than three-quarters of the way through the match and moved on to defend its title, and possibly become the eighth straight girls team from Anchorage to win state. West Valley gloriously finds itself in uncharted territory -- the Wolfpack are the first Fairbanks team, boys or girls, to reach the championship match.
Johnson, who was in goal for South when Dimond won last Saturday's shootout, 4-3, to break a scoreless tie, said she tried to read and react against Dimond shooters in that match. Considering penalty kicks seem like such crapshoot -- "Always a tough way to decide a game,'' said Dimond coach Terry Curran -- Johnson said she relied more on gambling Friday.
"I just kind of half-guessed,'' Johnson said. "This time I was a little more focused. This is state, my senior year.''
Johnson stopped two of the four shots she faced, denying Gatorade Player of the Year Aaliyah Lewis in the second round and Lizzy Gogolowski in the fourth round. And Johnson got her hands on three of Dimond's four shots.
After South's Morgan Hooe was denied by Dimond goalkeeper Katelyn Sweeney, Wolverines Madison Jungwirth, Keely Jelinek, Ashtyn Evans and Katelynn Zanders all scored.
Zanders' shot clinched victory, which seemed fitting since she forged a 1-1 tie late in the second half.
Dimond took a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute when defender Alexis Rogers scored off a splendid free kick from 25 yards out. Positioned on the left side, Rogers curled a low ripper around South's three-player wall, and her shot skipped along the artificial turf and inside the left post.
The Lynx carried that lead into the second half and received a fortuitous bounce in the 56th minute, when Hooe's free kick slammed off the crossbar. Still, play turned South's way for a stretch, with Hooe pumping several throw-ins into the box and Erin Stuart taking a couple of corner kicks.
Then, in the 68th minute, Hooe's hard pass from midfield freed the streaking Zanders on a breakaway -- Hooe's pass may have ricocheted slightly off a defender, or off teammate Kayla Sims -- and Zanders buried a left-footed blast for a 1-1 tie. Her shot rang off the right post and in.
"I just thought, 'Open net -- shoot,' " Zanders said.
That score held up through the rest of the 110 minutes of play before South finally completed its comeback.
"So tiring and exhausting,'' Zanders said. "We're a lot better at playing catch-up because we know the pressure in on and we have to come through.''
West Valley, which lost its first match of the season to South, 2-0, and is unbeaten (10-0-2) since, reached the championship match courtesy of goals from Christina Bussell and Jill Phillips. Maddison Ackiss delivered sweet set-ups on both goals.
"I'm kind of freaking out,'' Phillips said. "I can't even put it into words, I'm so excited.''
The Wolfpack have suffered so many injuries they barely have bench players, which Ackiss said makes their success even sweeter.
"It's exciting,'' she said. "We've overcome a lot of adversity. We've lost about five starters to injury.''
Ackiss set up Bussell's goal when she used her right foot to smoothly settle a high goal kick from Wolfpack goalkeeper Jasmine Bourne, then immediately turned and cranked a low pass for a breakaway Bussel buried in the 28th minute.
That score stood until the 65th minute, when Ackiss' left-footed corner kick from the right side found a leaping Phillips, who headed it hard into the top left corner of the net.
"She put it right on the back post, just over the head of the defender,'' Phillips said. "Her distribution today was amazing.''
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
State High School Soccer Championships
2012 ASAA/First National Bank
Alaska State High School Soccer Championships
South 2, Dimond 1 (penalty kicks)
West Valley 2, Soldotna 0
Service 6, Juneau 0
Kenai 2, Grace Christian 1 (penalty kicks)
Championship -- South vs. West Valley, 3:15 p.m.
3rd/5th place -- Dimond vs. Soldotna, 11:30 a.m.
4th/6th place -- Service vs. Kenai, 8 a.m.
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News