The Dexter girls’ soccer team defeated defending-state champion Gull Lake 3-1 to win a Regional championship and advance to Wednesday’s state semifinal game at Hope College.
The Dreadnaughts (20-1-1) will play at 7 p.m. against Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, a 2-1 overtime winner over Grand Rapids Christian.
The state finals are June 18 at Michigan State University. The D-2 game kicks off at 4 p.m.
The Dreads won their first Regional championship since 2008 with a goal in the first half and two in the second half to knock off Gull Lake.
Less than 3 minutes into the game, Dexter senior captain Riley Doll fired a shot on goal that rebounded off a Blue Devil keeper to fellow senior captain Hannah Tarnaski, who fired it into the net.
Five minutes later, an attack by the Gull Lake side forced Dexter to clear a ball into one of their own, that deflected off her on into the net for the 1-1 tie.
Each team shared possession of the ball creating good end-to-end action with each team creating some chances. Defenses for both teams tightened up, not allowing the other a goal.
“I thought our defense was very well organized, which caught Gull Lake offsides a few times,” said Dexter Coach Scott Forrester. “We had a couple of good looks at their goal with one heading in that their keeper made a great save on.”
With the score tied 1-1 at the half, it looked like there might be a changing of the guard, with Gull Lake winning the last three State Championships, the Dreadnaughts were impressive in the first half.
Midway through the second half, Emily Zeitunian received a pass from Kianna Marquez, made a nice turn and fired it into the goal. Six minutes later, Zeitunian took a pass from Morgan Esch and fired a left-footed shot to the far post, giving no chance for the Blue Devil keeper.
In a very physical game, the Dreads seemed to thrive and use their opponent’s aggressive play to their advantage.
“It was a good physical game that was allowed to be played and I think we did a better job of taking advantage of it than our opponent,” said Forrester.
The Dreads advanced to the Regional final with a 3-0 win over St. Joseph. Gull Lake defeated Marshall 2-1 in the other semifinal.