Gull Lake football has seen this story many times before and knows how it wants to end

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Team # 1 in the State, on their way to the Final Four.

Gull Lake has been there, done that.

Two to three times.

It’s a movie the Blue Devils have seen before. But it’s a story that has had several different endings.

Only one of these ends works for Gull Lake.

Gull Lake (20-1-1) will face Grand Rapids Christian (15-7-2) in the MHSAA Division 2 semi-final in men’s soccer at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Byron Center, with a chance of reaching the game championship.

In 2018, Gull Lake reached the Final Four, only to miss the title game. The following year, Gull Lake was the State’s No.1 team and saw their season come to a shocking end in the Districts.

Last year, the Blue Devils had a much happier ending to their football history. A Final Four trip to Gull Lake resulted in a victory and eventual state title to wrap up the 2020 campaign.

FOLLOWING: No.1 Gull Lake wins regional title and returns to Final Four

“Last year we were pretty pragmatic in what we wanted to do because the year before we were in a situation where we should have gone further than we did,” said the coach of Gull Lake, Matt Streitel. “That kind of pushed us and put us in a different mindset last year and it worked for us. This year we’re going to be able to build on those experiences that have worked for us.”

So the current No.1-ranked Gull Lake team knows how they want this week to go. Play Wednesday’s semifinal match as the state’s top ranked team, win and have a chance to defend their title in the Division 2 final match on Saturday.

“When we got to that Final Four a few years ago, it was the first time for the school in over 20 years,” said AJ Boucher, senior from Gull Lake, who was a freshman. in this team. “We were a little nervous, I think. Last year we had experience because of it, though, and it helped. This year we have even more experience and we can fit it in. at play this week.

“And that’s huge. Because we have a goal behind our back, which comes from the winning states last year. Everyone’s doing their best against us. But we just take that, play the game and keep winning. . “

Gull Lake certainly has the list to win a state title if the ball bounces the right way this week.

The Blue Devils feature one of the best players in the state at Boucher, who has previously pledged to play at Western Michigan University. The senior is a four-year-old, with 14 goals and 21 assists in the regular season, and is a candidate for the Mr. Soccer Award, which is awarded to the state’s best player.

Gull Lake also has the brother combination of senior Tyler and sophomore Ryan Corstange – each with goals scored in double digits.

In addition, the Blue Devils have an extraordinary defense, led by Isaac Lapeka. Gull Lake recorded nine shutouts in the regular season and added another in a regional final victory over second-ranked St. Joseph.

“This year we’re a more complete team,” Streitel said. “The goals are more distributed by our individuals and we can be a lot more creative in the way we score. It makes us more dangerous than before. Our defense also balances us. We weren’t scored in the playoffs. We’re proud of the defensive side of the ball. If the ball isn’t in the net on your side, you win games. “

This combination of championship qualities comes from a squad of nine seniors and an even larger group that has already made the playoffs.

“We have great chemistry in this team,” said Tyler Corstange. “From the last guy on the bench to the best guy on the team, we’re all best friends and all teammates working together towards this goal. We prepared for it. We know it’s a big game for us. don’t. I don’t want our season to end without a state championship trophy, so passing the Final Four is the next big step. “

If Gull Lake can get past his opponent in the semifinals, the Blue Devils could get a rematch with DeWitt in the state championship game, or see Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, as these two play in the other semi. -state final.

But there is work to be done before we get to this.

“Winning ahead can do a lot of things,” Streitel said. “It can make you have a big head, think you’re better than everyone else. Or, you can be balanced. I think that’s kind of where we’re at. We play in a league, a region, where anyone can beat you, which motivates you.

“All of our seniors were also on that team that went to the Final Four last year, so they know what it’s like to play in this game and win it. And that will help this week.”

Bill Broderick can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @billbroderick.


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