Senior's Parting Goal Seals Pilgrims' Repeat

June 15, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

WILLIAMSTON – Lansing Christian senior Kasey Jamieson scored nearly 200 goals during her terrific high school career. But it’s pretty obvious which one she’ll remember most: The last. 

Playing in her final high school game Saturday, Jamieson scored what turned out to be not only the last goal of her career, but also the entire season in Division 4.

Her tuck inside the near post was the decider as Lansing Christian claimed its second consecutive MHSAA title with a 1-0 win over Kalamazoo Christian at Williamston High School. 

“You can’t get much better than that,” Jamieson said. “It’s fun to end the year with a final goal. My final goal was in the state championship, and it was the final thing I’ll do at LCS. It’s pretty exciting.”

With 14:46 remaining the first half, Jamieson took a long pass from junior teammate Rilyn Ross in the left corner of the penalty box, beat a defender one-on-one and put a shot past the keeper to make it 1-0 Pilgrims.

It turned out to be the only goal of the game as the Pilgrims and Comets met in the Division 4 Final for the second consecutive season. 

In 2017, Lansing Christian scored the first goal in overtime and thought it was on its way to the title before Kalamazoo Christian scored off of a corner kick with four minutes left in the second overtime period to force a shootout.

Lansing Christian ultimately prevailed in that shootout to win its first girls soccer title.

A year later, the Pilgrims won title No. 2 by holding on to the early lead through relentless pressure up front, winning balls in the midfield and playing stout defense on the backline. 

Lansing Christian (20-3-2) outshot Kalamazoo Christian (20-3-4) by a 26-9 margin and had plenty of chances to increase its lead. But the game stayed 1-0 – although Kalamazoo Christian found a little life during the final 10 minutes with three corner kicks, which brought back bad memories for Lansing Christian head coach Joel Vande Kopple.

“That’s how they scored on us last year,” Vande Kopple said. “My stomach was up in my throat. But (goalie Lynn Cullens) and our defense were amazing. We didn’t give up a goal the whole tournament run.”

Lansing Christian indeed held on and now will say farewell to a senior class that will be hard to top in the future.

Jamieson, Cullens, Jessie Kruger, Sarah Voss, Alex Hanks, Jenna Li and Ally McHugh went to the MHSAA Finals three times, made Semifinals all four years and leave with two championships. 

“It was a great way to send them off,” Vande Kopple said. 

Sophomore goalie Jenna Blackwell made 25 saves in goal for Kalamazoo Christian.

“We battled to the end,” Kalamazoo Christian head coach Jay Allen said. “We made a few mistakes in the back there. In a game like that, you make one mistake and you lose.”

While disappointed over losing in the Final for the second straight year, one look at the roster offers a smile for Kalamazoo Christian. 

The Comets graduate just two seniors off their squad, Carmen Katie and Madelyn Batts, and will return 10 sophomores and three freshmen. 

“It’s a loaded roster, but what you have to understand is that those two seniors kept that roster together,” Allen said. “They brought the team together, led the team and got us to where we are. It was their leadership.”

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VIDEO: Lansing Christian's Kasey Jamieson scores the lone goal of the Division 4 Girls Soccer Final with under 15 minutes to play.

PHOTOS: (Top) Lansing Christian’s Eliza Lewis (17) pushes the ball upfield as Kalamazoo Christian’s Mikayla Tiesman chases. (Middle) Karina Deering keeps possession for the Comets.

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.)