Top-ranked Gull Lake secured the SMAC gold bracket championship and an unbeaten regular season Tuesday with an emphatic 6-0 home win over seventh-ranked St. Joseph. The Blue Devils pulled away midway through the second half with five goals over an eight minute stretch.
The Bears had a bit more pressure early in the match, but Gull Lake had them outshot roughly three-to-one by halftime. Despite that, the score was only 1-0 at the intermission, thanks to a 2o-yard bomb by junior Roni Sylejmani in the 33rd minute
The Blue Devils went ahead 2-0 on a 50th minute corner kick, taken by Jack Hirzel and headed in by Jacob Louden. In the 53rd minute, a quick Riley Embury pass set up Sylejmani for his second goal. Not even a full minute later, Sylejmani assisted Nolan Jaros for a 4-0 advantage.
Jaros scored again in the 55th minute with help from Nick Tracy, then Hirzel had a 58th minute rebound goal after a pass by Sylejmani, getting the score to its 6-0 final mark. Ethan Barnes was in net for his team’s eighth shutout of the season, unofficially making five saves.
St. Joseph closes the regular season at 14-5-1 and starts district play Thursday as they host Sturgis. With a win, the Bears would host either Edwardsburg or Niles in the semifinal next Wednesday. The other side of the brackets have SMAC foes Lakeshore and fourth-ranked Mattawan, plus Three Rivers and Paw Paw.
Gull Lake finishes the season unbeaten at 16-0-1, claiming their first tournament and regular season SMAC title in boys soccer along the way. The Blue Devils start district play Wednesday at home versus Vicksburg, with the winner likely to play at Coldwater next Tuesday. That semifinal would be broadcast live via JoeInsider.com if it is Gull Lake against Coldwater. The other side of the bracket features third-ranked Marshall, Eaton Rapids, Harper Creek, and Pennfield.