Last month, the three-time defending Division I state champion Dimond girls soccer team suffered its first loss in more than two years to rival South in a road matchup between the two powerhouse programs.
On Tuesday night, the Lynx returned the favor by edging out the Wolverines 1-0 in a Cook Inlet Conference showdown on their home turf in a tightly contested battle that went down to the wire.
“It was well-deserved,” Dimond head coach Will Lucero said. “The first time we played them, we had a lot of missed opportunities and we just didn’t finish the game. This time we came out with a little more intent.”
With the win, Dimond extended its win streak to five games in a row and improved to 10-1 on the year while spoiling South’s hopes of completing an undefeated season by dropping the Wolverines to 11-1.
“After that loss we regrouped, we maintained our unity and we just kept doing what we do best, which is play as a team,” Lucero said.
The two teams sit tied for first place in the CIC standings with 8-1 conference records and one game left to play in the regular season.
The second matchup between the two teams began in a similar fashion to the first with neither team being able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities in the first half, resulting in a scoreless stalemate heading into the second.
It was under 16 minutes when the first and only goal of the match was scored, courtesy of senior striker Tatum Porter, who has committed to playing soccer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
“I thought we deserved a goal,” she said. “We were making a lot of the good plays and just couldn’t score yet, and we finally got one ... I was really scared that I was going to miss, but I absolutely timed it right.”
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In the final minutes of the match, Porter was called for a yellow card after making contact with a South player on a sliding attempt to knock the ball away.
That incident set the table for Dimond senior goal keeper Brooklyn Stock to make the most clutch play of the game.
It forced her into a penalty shot situation with South’s Brianna Bailey, and Stock stopped the first attempt and a rebound from finding the back of the net.
“I was kind of getting on her about putting the ball in the line, so that might have messed with her head a little bit, but at the end of the day she didn’t make it so that was good for us,” Stock said.
The familiarity between the two teams was evident as Lucero shouted out “bottom right” — which was exactly where Bailey’s initial attempt ended up heading.
“That’s where she always goes,” Stock said. “She had a (penalty kick) in the last game against us so we knew where she was going to shoot it, and I had to dive that way no matter what.”
As much as having their longstanding win streak snapped stung earlier in the season, the Lynx felt like they needed it to remind themselves that they’re not invincible, and no win comes easy.
“It’s a blessing and a curse to lose,” Porter said. “We’re used to winning, and I thought the loss was good for us. It felt very awful to have, but we came back and wanted to win even more, which was even better.”
Dating back to 2010, Dimond and South have combined to capture every state title with the exception of the 2020 season, when there wasn’t a state tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last time neither team appeared in the championship bout was in 2009, when Service beat Juneau-Douglas for the right to hoist the First National Bank trophy.
Dimond and South’s most recent matchup had the intensity of a championship game, and while the likelihood that they’ll cross paths again in next week’s state tournament is high, the Lynx aren’t underestimating or overlooking anyone.
“We’re going to have to keep our mindset ready for every other team we’re playing and can’t just focus on South,” Porter said. “You never know, something may happen at state. It’s anyone’s game then, and if we do get to that point, we need to make sure we’re on top of everything.”