High School Sports

Identical twins with polar opposite personalities, South soccer’s Wagner brothers have the same goal in mind

Playing together on an undefeated soccer team has always been a dream for twin brothers Matthew and Michael Wagner, who have been on the same teams since they were little kids.

As seniors on the South Anchorage High boys team, that dream has become a reality.

The Wolverines are the top contender heading into the 2024 Division I state tournament this week after finishing the regular season 14-0-1. Their lone tie was a 2-2 stalemate with West, a team South shut out 10-0 in their finale.

“We always strived to win games and have fun and this is the most fun you can have, not losing a game,” Matthew said.

South opens its tournament on Thursday in a matchup with Lathrop at 3 p.m. at Wasilla High.

While the boys are identical twins, South head coach Brian Lux explains in many ways how they couldn’t be more different.

“One of them just wants to play soccer all the time, and one of them wants to ride dirt bikes all the time,” Lux said. “One of them just wants to score goals, and one of them just wants to prevent goals and could care less about scoring. They do have some differences in their hobbies and what they like to do, but they’re really close and always have each other’s back.”


Both brothers have been integral to the team’s success over the past three years, including as starters on the Wolverines team that beat West in the 2022 state finals. Even the twins’ dad, Ryan, contributes to the cause by broadcasting the South games.

“We don’t have the success we have without the two of them,” Lux said. “The Wagner family has been huge for our success this season.”

Matthew, the brother most passionate about soccer, is the Wolverines’ leading scorer with around two dozen goals and is in contention for Gatorade Player of the Year honors.

“I would say I’m definitely more of a city boy,” Matthew said. “I enjoy golfing and am really into business.”

Even though Michael is a stellar soccer player, he is the brother who prefers to work with his hands and takes more pride in preventing goals than he does in scoring them.

“I’m more of a rural guy,” Michael said. “I like being away and not with many people. I like working on trucks and being a mechanic, working with my hands and not being at a desk.”

Lux recalled a time when Michael told him once, “I’ll do anything to help my brother be successful, I just want to see a Wagner do it and I don’t care if it is me.”

That sentiment resonated with Lux, and he believes spoke to how unselfish they are and how deeply rooted their bond is.

“It’s a family thing,” Michael said. “Our last name is Wagner so no matter what we do, it’s going to be under the Wagner banner so as a team. I want a state championship for South High School, and I want my brother to be successful as he moves into his college career.”

It means a great deal to Matthew to have his biggest supporter as a teammate willing to sacrifice personal glory to help set him up for future success.

“There is nothing better you can have than a family member who supports you,” Matthew said. “We’ve always been like that throughout the years.”

Growing and maturing on and off the field

Watching them grow from boys and mature beyond the pitch has been a pleasure for their head coach.

“Matthew has been our captain, and the way he has led the team has been great, and Michael’s passion drives us,” Lux said. “They’re kids that I really trust not just on the field to make good decisions but in life. They’re very good soccer players, but they’re even better people.”

Rick Wagner started his kids in soccer when they were about five years old — and as a twin himself, it’s been especially meaningful for him to watch his sons share many of the same experiences as he did with his brother growing up in Portland, Oregon.

“It reminds me of growing up with my twin brother,” Ryan said. “We did the exact same thing. … My twin brother ironically played defense and I was an offensive player, so it was very much like these guys. I see my twin brother and I in these guys all the time.”

Matthew admitted that when they first started playing soccer, Michael was the one who took to it more naturally whereas he had to work harder to become the gifted player he is today.

“For him to be able to support me and keep going with me brings me a lot of joy,” Matthew said. “The reason I am so good at playing in general is because I get to go against (Michael). We always go at each other every single chance we get.”


The two of them compete at everything from practice to everyday activities.

“The level is always different when you’re playing a twin,” Michael said. “You’ve got to hear it when you get home, you’ve got to hear it at dinner and you’ve got to hear it in the morning. Anytime I’m going up against Matthew, I’m definitely playing with a different type of aggression.”

Striving towards the ultimate goal and looking ahead to the future

To go out on top as two-time state champions after falling short of defending their title as juniors would be a “perfect” ending for their playing careers together, according to Matthew.

“For all the guys we played with coming up, our one goal was (to win) our senior year,” he said. “Coming into this season, we decided to give it our all.”

Since they were freshman, the program has preached camaraderie, and no one embodies that mantra more than the Wagners.

“As a team we’re a powerful strong force,” Michael said. “(Undefeated) seasons are always fun, but at the end of the day getting the ring on the finger is what you want.”

Matthew will continue his soccer career at the collegiate level competing at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. Meanwhile, Michael will be attending WyoTech, a Technical Institute in Laramie, Wyoming, where he will be learning a trade in diesel automotive. He will still be playing soccer for the Wyoming USPL men’s team, so this year’s state tournament won’t be his last as a competitor in the sport.

“They’re both chasing the dream that they wanted, and we’re really proud of them for that,” Lux said.


Alaska State Soccer Tournament

Division I boys soccer


First round

No. 3 West Valley vs. No. 6 Dimond, 11 a.m. at Colony High

No. 1 South Anchorage vs. No. 8 Lathrop, 3 p.m. at Wasilla High

No. 2 Colony vs. No. 7 Chugiak, 5 p.m. at Colony High

No. 4 West High vs. No. 5 Service, 7 p.m. at Wasilla High

Division I girls soccer


First round

No. 2 Dimond vs. No. 7 Chugiak, 1 p.m. at Colony High

No. 4 Service vs. No. 5 Colony, 3 p.m. at Colony High


No. 1 South Anchorage vs. No. 8 West High, 5 p.m. at Wasilla High

No. 3 West Valley vs. No. 6 Lathrop, 7 p.m. at Colony High

Division II boys soccer


First round

No. 3 Ketchikan vs. No. 6 North Pole, 9 a.m. at Wasilla High


No. 2 Juneau-Douglas vs. No. 7 Homer, 1 p.m. at Palmer High

No. 1 Soldotna vs. No. 8 Kodiak, 1 p.m. at Wasilla High

No. 4 Palmer vs. No. 5 Kenai Central, 5 p.m. at Palmer High

Division II girls soccer


First round

No. 4 Homer vs. No. 5 Monroe Catholic, 9 a.m. at Colony High

No. 3 Soldotna vs. No. 6 Ketchikan, 11 a.m. at Wasilla High

No. 2 Kenai Central vs. No. 7 Grace Christian, 11 a.m. at Palmer High

No. 1 Juneau-Douglas vs. No. 8 Palmer, 3 p.m. at Palmer High

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.