Dimond senior Clayton Nadon made a recent move from midfielder to striker and it paid off big for the Lynx on Thursday.
Nadon scored a hat trick to propel the boys soccer team to a 4-0 Cook Inlet Conference win over host Service and all but clinch a spot in next week's state tournament. Dimond, which won a state title last season, can lose Saturday's CIC season finale to first-place West by as many as nine goals and still earn a state berth.
Dimond (10-3-0) and Service (9-4-0) came into Thursday's match tied for third in the league and the top three teams in the final CIC standings earn spots in the state tournament.
"It's exciting," Nadon said. "We almost didn't make it and that would be heart breaking, honestly."
Service beat Dimond 2-1 in the first meeting between the teams last month, but Nadon said the Lynx have steadily improved as the season progressed.
"Our touches are getting so much better, especially in this game," he said. "Our touches were there. Our passes were there."
Conditions were cold and damp Thursday, and Nadon said that may have helped contribute to his first goal, which skipped across the wet turf and skidded past the Service goalie. Nadon notched two more goals before halftime, his second glancing in off the right post. Trask Shamburt scored Dimond's final goal late in the second half.
"This was a must win for us," said Dimond coach Barat Kallian. "The guys knew what they had to do from the beginning. It was a job well done for the boys."
CIC coaches voted to do away with a conference tournament this season, setting the stage for high stakes matches at the end of the regular season. Though the Cougars will miss out on the state tournament, Service coach Dan Rufner said he likes the new format.
"This was a knockout game," Rufner said. "I don't think it was any less drama not having a region tournament. I kinda like the atmosphere of it."
West 5, East 0
The West boys secured first place in the CIC for the first time in 20 seasons, bagging a 5-0 win over East at Dimond High on Thursday night.
Henry Vasquez opened scoring for the Eagles with his 17th goal of the season, Drini Rezepi added two goals and three assists, with Abdou Sallha and Ahmed Niass each tacking on goals. Hunter Dunn earned the shutout in goal for the Eagles, who improved to 11-1-1.
The last time West won a CIC title, Eagles coach Laef Eggan was playing on the team.
Dimond 4, Service 0
The Dimond girls continued their undefeated march through the Cook Inlet Conference on Thursday, knocking off Service 4-0 in a CIC soccer match at Service High.
Aaliyah Lewis scored the opening goal on an assist from Lizzy Gogolowski, and Erica Heil put the Lynx up 2-0 on an assist from Ariela Lewis. Bobbye Pendleton made it 3-0 on a free kick, and Leah Swiss closed out the scoring.
Katelyn Sweeney and Ruth Ann Lomu shared goaltending duties for the shutout.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS