With a winning streak that has stretched into a third season, the Dimond Lynx encounter expectations -- and the accompanying pressure -- every time they play a flag football game.
Saturday afternoon, with that tension at its most burdensome, Dimond didn't succumb to it.
Quarterback Nikki Forrey ran for a 1-yard touchdown in overtime, the Lynx defense forced four incomplete passes on South's subsequent possession and Dimond bagged its 37th straight win with a 13-7 victory at Anchorage Football Stadium.
The Lynx (3-0), two-time defending Cook Inlet Conference champions, have not lost since East beat them in the conference semifinals in 2011.
"It is weight on our shoulders, but we try to avoid it by just playing the game,'' said Forrey, who also furnished a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Saturday's game marked the first time the Lynx have been taken to overtime during their winning streak. Still, the possibility of losing didn't seem to unnerve them. Dimond coach Kathleen Navarre said that's because her team worked out any insecurities in its 21-14 come-from-behind victory over Service earlier in the week.
"I think the Service game helped us because we did panic in that game,'' Navarre said. "This game, they didn't get rattled.''
Forrey, who completed 6 of 10 passes for 116 yards and rushed for 33 yards on 14 carries, said her team's composure proved clutch.
"Working together and encouraging each other really helps, because when you fight (internally), all it does is cause chaos,'' Forrey said.
With the score tied 7-7 after regulation, each team got the ball at the 10-yard-line and four downs. Dimond's offense got the ball first and Forrey opened with a 9-yard pass to Justine Anderson. On second down, Forrey ran up the middle and stretched out her arms to put the ball over the goal line just as South's Amy Yi pulled her flags. Dimond's conversion run failed, holding its lead to 13-7.
South (2-1) was unable to connect on four passes during its overtime possession, but came closer to knocking off Dimond than any team in the last two-plus seasons.
"I think everyone is gunning for them, and I think we're the toughest team they've played,'' said South's Sabrina Ungaro. "I thought we really put up a good fight at the end. A win would have been nice.''
Ungaro sparked the Wolverines on both sides of the ball. She produced two pulls for losses on Dimond's game-opening drive -- she finished with six pulls for losses -- and then cut and swerved for a 53-yard touchdown run on South's first possession. McKenzie Smith's conversion pass to Emily Robinson gave South a 7-0 lead.
Ungaro rushed six times for a game-high 79 yards.
Dimond finally answered, just before halftime, on Forrey's 2-yard scoring run and her conversion pass to Anderson, which forged a 7-7 tie. The touchdown was set up by Forrey's 54-yard connection with Lauren Hines, who caught five passes for 107 yards.
Both defenses flourished. South's Callie Orizotti snagged an interception, as did Dimond's Neno Martinez. Dimond's Celine Abello generated 11 pulls, including two for losses, and teammate Hannah Gastaldi contributed four pulls for losses.
After coming close to knocking off the Lynx, South gets another shot at Dimond on Sept. 23 at Dimond's Alumni Field.
"It was good for our confidence because Dimond has seemed so out of reach for years,'' said South coach Melanie Sugita.
Service 12, West 0
Julia Miknich hit Haleigh Van Allen with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes Saturday to spark Service's 12-0 CIC flag football victory over West at Anchorage Football Stadium.
Zoe Bailey and Kerianne Hansen each grabbed interceptions for Service, and Lahondra Daniels accumulated six pulls.