Powers Learns, Returns, Wins D3 Title

June 16, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

WILLIAMSTON – Kennedy Myers didn’t want to forget the images, even if they were still like piercing wounds.

A sophomore forward for the Flint Powers Catholic girls soccer team, Myers had flashbacks of last year’s Division 3 title game loss to Hudsonville Unity Christian when Powers took the field to face Freeland in this year’s Final on Friday.  

“Right before this game started, I remembered last year and how the seniors felt getting their medals for second place,” Myers said. “Seeing their faces and how disappointed they were. I knew I had to use that to motivate me today.”

Thanks to two early goals from Myers, Powers made good of another title chance and had a much happier disposition during the medal ceremony this time following a 4-0 defeat of Freeland.

The championship was the second in school history for Powers (26-1-2), which also won it all in 2011.

“You look back knowing we were a better team last year,” Powers coach Art Moody said. “Nothing against Unity because they did what they needed to. We just outshot them last year and learned from that. We came in here saying these were the things we needed to do better. It meant so much to have that negative to look back on to kind of say, ‘Hey, this is how we are going to turn it into a positive.’”

Powers took a 1-0 lead with 30:18 remaining in the first half on a goal by Myers, who found herself with the ball right in front of the goal following a series of deflections off a free kick.

Powers then scored two goals over a span of 1:34, the first by Myers with 19:05 left in the first half.

Dribbling toward the goal from the right side of the net, she had a shot blocked by Freeland junior goalkeeper Alexa Walker.  

But the ball bounced back toward the middle of the box, Myers won the race to the ball and fired into an open net to make it 2-0 Powers.

With 17:31 left in the first half, senior Emilie Pechette then drilled home a shot from 18 yards out to give the Chargers a 3-0 lead.

“I definitely think it shot our confidence down,” Freeland coach Lauren Kemerer said. “I just tried to explain to the girls that if something like that happens, you have to pick yourselves up.”

Powers made it 4-0 with 20:25 left in the game when senior Gabrielle Amato headed home a ball in the box off a corner kick by senior Sophia Dubiel that deflected off of a Freeland defender and went in.

“(Last year) definitely carried with us,” Powers senior sweeper Rachel Phillpotts said. “It definitely made an impact on how we came out here and how we did our season this year. We needed to come out and really show people that last year was not a fluke.”

Freeland (23-2) entered with a lot of momentum following a 3-2 Semifinal win Tuesday over three-time reigning champion Unity Christian.

The downside from that win for Freeland was that it lost one of its best players, senior midfielder Jessica Piper, late in the game to a knee injury.

Piper didn’t play in the title game against Powers.

“She’s a phenomenal player,” Kemerer said. “Defensively and offensively she’s a leader on our team, and it was definitely detrimental to our team to not have her.”

Still, Freeland did make the MHSAA championship game for the first time in school history.

“Our goal this year was getting past Unity,” Kemerer said. “We wanted it and worked towards it. We hit our goals. We expected to make it here. It’s unfortunate we lost, but it is what it is. It’s a learning experience for all of us.”

Click for the full scoring summary.

PHOTOS: (Top) Flint Powers Catholic players celebrate during Saturday's Division 3 Final at Williamston High School. (Middle) Freeland's Erin Tyson (2) works to gain possession against Powers' Dominique Amato (19). 

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

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

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 DougDonnelly@hotmail.com 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.)