Forest Hills Northern topped Gull Lake 2-1 after overtime in Wednesday’s Division 2 soccer semifinal match at Portage Northern High School. The Huskies became the first and only team this season to defeat the Blue Devils, putting FHN back into the championship for the third straight year and ending Gull Lake’s hope for their first finals appearance since their titles from 2013-15.
“It’s a tough way to go out, but it is a lot better than what we’ve done in the past,” said Gull Lake coach Jeff Corstange.
The Blue Devils had suffered early playoff exits in the last two seasons, including a district loss in 2017, but bounced back with a very strong 2018 campaign.
“We’re losing eight tremendous seniors, they excelled,” said Corstange. “We’re excited for the future, but this is a tough game for them to end on.”
Forest Hills Northern had the lone goal of the first period in the 27th minute from an unexpected source. Starting defender Paige Myers scored only her second goal of the season on a long shot from about 45 yards out that was mishandled in net.
The game stayed at 1-0 until Gull Lake got the equalizer in the 70th minute. Reagan Wisser’s shot in the box deflected off the legs of goalkeeper Parker Hutchinson to a waiting Maddie Corstange with an open net. It was the first varsity goal for the sophomore daughter of coach Corstange, who was one of the players called up from the junior varsity team for the postseason run.
“We were just looking for some fresh legs to go in,” said coach Corstange. “We knew that they both had it, Lily (Stricker) and Maddie both came in and gave us that extra burst of energy.”
Gull Lake nearly ended the game in the final minute of regulation, as they drew a free kick inside the arc from 20 yards away. Wisser’s try made it through the defensive wall, but couldn’t get by the sophomore goalkeeper Hutchinson, sending the game to overtime.
The winning goal came about eight minutes into the first overtime for the Huskies as Northern Michigan commit Credence White delivered a perfect pass from midfield into the arc to Sammi Blair, who tapped it around goalkeeper Gabbie Bennecke for the lead.
The Blue Devils had one more great look midway through the second overtime and were inches away from tying the game as a Wisser rocket caromed straight down off the crossbar. The ball barely stayed out and no one was able to get the rebound into the net. From there, the Husky defense held firm to clinch their spot in the championship.
Gull Lake finishes the season at 20-1-1 and graduates seniors Kaitlyn Stricker, Sara Olivarez, Rachel Wason, Delaney Chalker, Nicole Miller, Olivia Scheel, Taylor Wesley, and Julia Dawson.
Forest Hills Northern improves to 18-5-0 and sets up a rematch with Bloomfield Hills Marian in Saturday’s Division 2 final at 4 p.m. ET from Williamston High School. Last season, Marian edged the Huskies 2-1 after penalty kicks.