Finals Preview: 2012 Best Back for More

June 14, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A number of players taking the field at MHSAA Girls Soccer Finals on Saturday should be plenty familiar with the awe that accompanies competing in a championship game.

The Division 4 Final is a rematch of last season's Grandville Calvin Christian win over Waterford Our Lady/Clarkston Everest Collegiate. Reigning Division 2 champion Birmingham Marian is back, as is Troy – the runner-up the last two seasons in Division 1.

The one game without a familiar team is in Division 3. Although Grand Rapids South Christian and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep entered the postseason ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, neither has played in an MHSAA Final.

Below is Saturday's schedule, followed by a look at each team that will be playing.

Division 1 at Williamston, Noon
Grandville (14-7-1) vs Troy (14-6-3)

Division 2 at Williamston, 3 p.m.
Richland Gull Lake (20-1-1) vs Bloomfield Hills Marian (17-2-4)

Division 3 at Mason, Noon
Grand Rapids South Christian (21-1-3) vs Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (21-2-2)

Division 4 at Mason, 3 p.m.
Grandville Calvin Christian (17-2-4) vs Waterford Our Lady/Clarkston Everest (20-0)

Tickets cost $7. All Finals will be streamed live online at, with radio broadcasts available on

All statistics below are through at least the regular season, with most through teams' Regionals or Semifinals. (Click for links to brackets and scores.)

Division 1

14-7-1, unranked
Coach: Lewis Robinson, third season (45-16-4)
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Rachael Braginton, soph. F; Delanie Bosworth, sr. D; Sydney Blitchok, fr. F. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Grandville has improved its win total all three seasons under Robinson, with three District titles, but is finishing off an unprecedented playoff run this weekend. The Bulldogs advanced in part by beating honorable mention Caledonia in the Regional Final and No. 3 Novi in Wednesday’s Semifinal. Grandville shut out three of those six postseason opponents after navigating a league that included No. 6 East Kentwood and No. 8 Rockford.

14-6-3, unranked
Coach: Brian Zawislak, fifth season (80-22-18)
League finish: Fourth in Oakland Activities Association Red
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2003), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Sarah Troccoli, soph. M (12 goals, 8 assists); Alison Holland, sr. GK (0.69 GAA, 7 shutouts); Madison Hirsch, sr. F (5 goals, 4 assists).
Outlook: Troy has been on the cusp of the last two titles, falling in Finals to Novi and Okemos, respectively, the last two seasons. The Colts are on an 11-0-1 run after a bit of a slow start that did include 1-0 losses to three teams ranked among the top three in their respective divisions at the end of the regular season. Troy beat honorable mention Anchor Bay in the Regional Final and then No. 10 Rochester in a shootout in Wednesday’s Semifinal.

Division 2

17-2-4, No. 2
Coach: Barry Brodsky, 12th season (222-21-28)
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League Division 1
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Kelly Sweeney, sr. M (10 goals, 5 assists); Catherine Anger, sr. F (11 goals, 12 assists); Kaitlin Patouhas, fr. GK.
Outlook: All five of Marian’s titles have come over the last decade, including three over the last four seasons. Both losses and a tie this season came against top-ranked Livonia Ladywood, and the Mustangs beat honorable mention Avondale in the District Final and No. 6 Fenton in the Semifinal on the way to this weekend. Patouhas and senior Allison Conway have combined to allow only 12 goals.

20-1-1, No. 3
Coach: Jeff Corstange, second season (33-7-2)
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East
Championship history: Class B champion 1992, four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Carley Rice, sr. M (17 goals, 18 assists); Rachel Fouts, jr. M (17 goals, 16 assists); Megan Harma, jr. GK (0.40 GAA, 15 shutouts).
Outlook: Gull Lake was a regular finalist during the 1990s and is back in a championship game for the first time since finishing runner-up in 1999. Junior Tabitha Boze and sophomore Amanda Pavletic each add 13 more goals to the team total, and junior Sydney Nikitas has scored 10. Gull Lake opened this season with nine shutouts in 10 games giving up a one goal only, in a 2-1 win over No. 8 Plainwell. The lone loss was 2-1 to honorable mention Stevensville Lakeshore in the regular-season finale.  

Division 3

21-1-3, No. 1
Coach: Jason Boersma, sixth season (91-30-12)
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Jessica Owen, soph. F (15 goals, 12 assists); Kendra Haan, sr. F (13 goals, 11 assists); Emily Blankespoor, jr. GK (0.45 GAA, 14 shutouts).
Outlook: South Christian has been building toward this run, winning four straight District championships before then claiming its first Regional title last week. The Sailors eliminated reigning champion and No. 4-ranked Hudsonville Unity Christian in the Regional and also honorable mentions Delton Kellogg and Paw Paw during the tournament. Senior Kayla Diemer adds another 11 goals and seven assists splitting time in the midfield and on defense.    

21-2-2, No. 2
Coach: Jim Stachura, fourth season (59-24-4)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League AA
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Taylor Timko, jr. M (39 goals, 12 assists); Lindsey Klei, jr. F (12 goals, 11 assists); Alexandra Arnoldy, sr. GK (0.73 GAA, 12 shutouts).
Outlook: After making just its second Semifinal ever in 2012, Notre Dame has taken a first-time step into the season's final game. Notre Dame eliminated No. 3 Detroit Country Day, No. 9 Jackson Lumen Christi, honorable mention Grosse Ile and No. 8 Flint Powers Catholic along the way – and also beat Division 1 finalist Troy 3-0 during the regular season. Stachura was an assistant when Troy won the boys Division 1 title in 2003.     

Division 4

17-2-4, No. 2
Coach: Tim TerHaar, 13th season (209-60-20)
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver
Championship history: Division 4 champion 2012.
Players to watch: Camie Rietberg, jr. M (23 goals, 4 assists); Hilary Curry, soph. F (14 goals, 17 assists); Emily VanVliet, soph. F (13 goals, 17 assists), Natalie Curry, sr. M (14 goals, 10 assists)
Outlook: Calvin Christian has kept on cruising after winning its first championship a year ago, with losses this season only to Division 3 No. 4 Unity Christian and Division 2 No. 5 Grand Rapids Christian. The Squires beat No. 3 Kalamazoo Christian in the Semifinal to advance. Although they’ve scored 127 goals (5.5 per game), the defense has been just as impressive with freshman keeper Jordyn Postema posting 19 shutouts and giving up 0.43 goals per game.    

20-0, No. 1
Coach: Katie Hearn, second season (38-1-2)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League Intersectional
Championship history: Division 4 champion 2010, runner-up 2012.
Players to watch: Anna Robb, jr. F (29 goals, 9 assists), Alex Troy, fr. M (12 goals, 14 assists); Ava Doetsch, sr. F (14 goals, 12 assists); Jessica Parry, sr. M (14 goals, 12 assists); Lindsay Straw, jr. M (13 goals, 8 assists).
Outlook: The Lakers are loaded with skilled scorers despite only three seniors on the team. Like with Calvin Christian, the defense has been incredibly steady as well – junior Megan Luttinen and her defenders didn’t give up more than one goal in a game this season until No. 4 Lansing Christian scored two in the Semifinal. Luttinen has 12 shutouts.

PHOTO: Troy's Madison Hirsch (22), here moving the ball ahead against Okemos in last season's Division 1 Final, hopes to help her team to its first championship since 2003. (Click to see more at

3-Sport Standout Sluss Gives Lenawee Christian All-State Boost for Every Season

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

January 11, 2023

ADRIAN – Avery Sluss picked up a golf club for the first time her freshmen year at Adrian Lenawee Christian. Now she’s an all-state golfer.

Southeast & BorderSluss started playing basketball because it was a way for her and her older brother, Gavin, to connect. She’s now the leading scorer on the Cougars basketball team a year after receiving all-state recognition.

Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She will return to the soccer field in the spring already with her college plans in place. She signed recently to play goalkeeper at Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I’ve learned so much from sports,” Avery said. “It teaches me a lot about life.”

Her coaches call her a self-motivated athlete, quiet leader and someone dedicated to her faith, her teammates, and academics. She is a 4.0 student and has played four years of varsity golf, basketball, and soccer. She’s earned all-state recognition in all three sports.

“She is very self-motivated,” said first-year Lenawee Christian girls basketball coach Emilie Beach. “She doesn’t miss workouts or practices. She pushes herself hard. She forces others to rise (around her).”

Sluss is in her fourth season on the Lenawee Christian varsity basketball team. This year her role changed from mostly a defensive specialist to scorer.

Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center.Beach said Avery hasn’t changed her positive attitude with the changes in her role on the team. She has a high basketball IQ, Beach said, which helps her on the court.

“It can be tough and frustrating, but she comes in with a great attitude each day and leads her teammates,” Beach said. “She is a quiet leader who leads by example. She is hardest on herself, and that’s where a lot of her motivation comes from.”

The Cougars have had great success on the basketball floor the last several years, and Sluss has been part of it. She’s played alongside all-staters and played at the Breslin Center. She started and played 20 minutes in last year’s Semifinal loss to Plymouth Christian Academy.

This season she’s averaging 14.5 points a game, with 16 3-pointers, and has scored at least 17 points four times.

“It’s very different, but I like the role I’m in now,” she said. “Now, it’s like you have to score. I’ve accepted it. I’m just trying my best to fulfill that role for my teammates.”

Sluss sat out the fall travel soccer season while she was recovering from a slight back injury. But she was able to hit the golf course. She shot a two-day total of 186 at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final, helping the Cougars finish second as a team. A year earlier Sluss shot an 89 and 87 and helped the Cougars finish fourth overall.

Not bad for someone who didn’t pick up a golf club until just a few years ago.

“Golf was new to me my freshman year,” she said. “Some of my friends said I should try it, so I did. I went to the range maybe one or two times before I started to play. I’ve loved it.”

As far as sports goes, soccer was her first love. She started playing at the age of 4 when a neighborhood dad gathered a few girls together and formed a team.

“We started playing in the back yard,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer ever since. My first travel team was when I was 7.”

Sluss first started thinking about playing college soccer when she was in kindergarten.

“I’ve always wanted to play soccer in college,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about that. I’ve spent so much time on the sport that it would be silly not to. I want it to pay off with college.”

Sluss plants a chip on the green. She used to play multiple positions but turned to goalkeeper at the age of 12.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “There are a lot of little things. The mental part of being a goalkeeper is important.”

After being named to the coaches association all-state third team last year, Sluss is primed for a big season this spring, especially with her college choice behind her.

“It is a strong Christian college, which was important to me,” she said. “It’s a lot like Lenawee Christian. Everyone on the soccer team was great when I met them, and the girls are so nice.”

Sluss has become adept at mixing sports with academics and life.

“Balance is a big issue,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, especially doing two at a time.

“My whole family, my parents (David and Kristen), they always push me to be the best I can be. I owe them a lot. Even my little sister (Addie) pushes me to do my best.”

Avery’s family moved from Toledo to the Adrian area several years ago, and the two perfectly complement to each other.

“Lenawee Christian has been a great fit for me,” she said. “All of the people are awesome, and I have grown in my faith here.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Avery Sluss gathers up the ball while playing keeper for Lenawee Christian’s soccer team. (Middle) Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Below) Sluss plants a chip on the green. (Photos courtesy of the Lenawee Christian athletic department.)