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SOCCER

Seibert and Sullivan team up for winning goal in 96th minute as Dimond girls stun previously undefeated South

by | May 26, 2024 | Cover Story, Soccer

Dimond’s Parker Sullivan being closely defended. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Dimond High’s Katelyn Seibert and Parker Sullivan teamed up Saturday for one of the prettiest goals you will see on a soccer field.

It was hard to determine which was better: the pinpoint pass or picture-perfect shot.

Seibert’s right-on-the-money corner kick was headed into the back of the net by Sullivan in the 96th minute to highlight a 1-0 OT win over previously undefeated South in the title game of the ASAA Division I girls soccer state tournament at Wasilla High School.

It was a dream goal to end a dream season for the Lynx (14-2), who snapped South’s 16-game winning streak in a rematch of last year’s state final won by South.

In fact, Dimond and South have matched up in the state title game in each of the last five years and one of them has now been state champion 14 years in a row. The last time a team not named Dimond or South won was Service in 2009.

Even with that history between premier programs, Saturday’s game was different because this South team was different – different in the sense that it was arguably the most dominant girls squad in Alaska high school soccer history as the Wolverines entered Saturday’s final having outscored opponents 101-3.

They had been virtually untouchable, putting up seven goals or more in eight of 16 games while posting 14 shutouts.

Dimond’s Katelyn Seibert had the corner kick that led to the game’s only goal. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The only team with goals against South this year was Dimond, which lost 4-1 and 3-2. That had to have given the Lynx hope entering the final.

Both teams are technically sound; they like to control the ball rather than chase it. Poised and patient, the first half was physical as a few players went down and stayed down for a minute but remained in the game.

Early on, Dimond’s Mai Mateaki feathered a beautiful through pass in the 22nd minute while Sullivan had a terrific touch pass in the 24th minute.

Then South’s Addysen Gasser dribbled right to left and blasted a shot off the crossbar in the 29th minute. Gasser was great and rifled another shot on goal in the 35th minute as South slowly started to tilt the field in their direction.

Coming out of halftime, the Wolverines kept it up and nearly had a goal in the 41st minute after a South player collided with the Dimond keeper as both players went for the ball, causing the ball to squirt free and a South player was there to put the rebound into the net, but the referee wiped it away to little argument.

Meanwhile, the field seemed to tilt even more in South’s direction as the inevitable feeling of a goal was brewing by the sheer number of times Dimond had to clear the ball, leading to probably 30 throw-ins by South.

South’s Addysen Gasser dribbles in traffic. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

In the 62nd minute, South earned a corner kick and settled the ball in front of the net, but the shot sailed high. Six minutes later a deflected in front of the goal was grabbed by Dimond keeper Ayris Gonzalez.

Mateaki and Sullivan’s deft ballhandling allowed the Lynx some space on offense, but not much. Kalei Ganotisi’s header in the closing moments of regulation drew an ‘ohh’ from the crowd.

The game started in the sun, but by the end the field was almost entirely covered by shadows.

Dimond came alive in OT and had an early breakaway that was snuffed out. Later, Ayla Ertekin earned a header and Mateaki’s header was on target but right to the South keeper.

Finally, in the 96th minute, the Lynx broke through. It was set up by a long shot on goal that the South keeper had to jump up to tip above the bar. That set up the corner kick where Seibert found Sullivan in a crowd as the kick skipped over a trio of South defenders stationed in front of Sullivan.

Sullivan didn’t even have to move, except for flicking a header to the right corner of the net. The pass made it possible, but winning a state championship wouldn’t have been possible without the goal.

After the final whistle, pandemonium broke out on the field as Dimond players and coaches danced, hugged and celebrated their stunning victory.

Dimond’s Parker Sullivan and Mai Mateaki celebrate at the final whistle. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

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