Category Archives: Girls Soccer

RECAP/AUDIO: Lansing Christian Claims Division 4 Title over Kalamazoo Christian 2-1 After Penalty Kicks

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After 100 minutes of play, the first 82 of which had no scoring, the Kalamazoo Christian Comets and Lansing Christian Pilgrims needed penalty kicks to determine the MHSAA Division 4 girls soccer state champion.  The Pilgrims won the shootout 4-2, giving them a 2-1 final score for their first ever state championship in three visits.

Lansing Christian dominated regulation, out-shooting the Comets 13-1 in the first half and 8-3 in the second.   However, senior goalkeeper Allyson Kranstz was a brick wall, making 12 saves in regulation and another in overtime.

“She kept us in it,” noted Kalamazoo Christian head coach Jay Allen.  “She kept us in all season, that’s why she has 20 shutouts, along with that defense.”

Despite only getting four shots in regulation, the Comets were the closest to scoring with a shot midway through the second half getting past Pilgrim goalkeeper Lynn Cullens, only to be cleared by midfielder Sarah Voss right at the goal line.

“For Sarah to do that in that moment was a huge moment,” said Lansing Christian coach Joel Vande Kopple.  “They almost got us there.”

In the first overtime, 82:38 into the contest, Lansing Christian became the first team to score on Kalamazoo Christian since April 22.   Jackie Moore found a pass to sophomore Rilyn Ross, getting her 20th goal of the season and the lead.

With 3:03 remaining in the second overtime, the Comets stuffed the box on a Meagan Laaksonen corner kick, which deflected off a header for the equalizer.

Although it initially looked like it was scored by Lauryn Mohney, and was even listed in the official scoring as such, it was actually senior Abbey VanDongen who got the deflection.

“I haven’t gone up like that on a jumping header in forever,” said VanDongen, who suffered ACL tears in the previous two seasons.  “I felt it, just watched it go in.  It was emotions and happiness after that.”

With the game tied 1-1 after the second overtime, it came down to five rounds of penalty kicks.  Lansing Christian had the first shot and Kealeigh Usiak scored.   Laaksonen matched for the Comets, followed by a another Pilgrim score by Abby Lyon.  Against Kayla Beebe, who led the Comets in goals on the season, Pilgrim keeper Lynn Cullens was able to make the save to give her team the advantage.

“Lynn, a couple of weeks ago came up to me and said, ‘coach, I don’t think we’re going to win the state title if we go to the shootout with me in goal.'” said Vande Kopple.  “We just kept trying to build her confidence and she made a huge save for us.”

“My team is like family,” said Cullens.  “For them to be on my side and for them to trust me that much…it feels great.”

Cullen also noted how she and her team rallied around senior Abby Krueger, an all-state player from last season, who suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the postseason.

“The one thing she told me before this game was, ‘Lynn, I know you’re hard on yourself, but I believe in you and God believes in you.  You just have to give it your all and keep your head up, because we all trust in you.'”

Kranstz saved the next shot by Kasey Jamieson, the top Pilgrim scorer.   The Comets couldn’t even it up as Elise VanSparrentak’s try smacked the crossbar.  Jessie Kruger scored and made it 3-1, followed by a match from Annika VanZytveld, putting it at 3-2.   The fourth and decisive PK was scored by Eliza Lewis, giving Lansing Christian the win and their first ever title.   They had taken second in 2015 and 2011 under Vande Kopple, who just finished his 11th year at the helm.

“In my first year, (Kalamazoo Christian) beat us 4-0 in the regional finals and I said to myself, ‘I don’t know how we’re ever going to beat a team like that,'” noted Vande Kopple.  “They’ve won four state championships and that’s kind of the model we followed.   To get here, to play them, to play as hard as we did and to get a win feels really good.”

Coach Allen was an assistant in Kalamazoo Christian’s previous title wins in 2008, 07, 04, and 03.   After finishing his fourth year as the head coach, he told his team following the game that they were the hardest working group he’s coached.   He also had high praise for Krantsz, who he shared a long embrace with at midfield with following the game.

“The best goalkeeper we’ve had at Kalamazoo Christian, period, ever.   You don’t replace that quality of, not just goalkeeper, but that quality of an individual,” said Allen.

“You always have something special for your first class.  The things they’ve done to me in four years, I’m surprised I’m still alive,” laughed Allen.  “They’ve worked hard, they’ve seen adversity.   This year, they came and they said, ‘we will play on June 17.’   And you know what?  Here we are, playing on June 17.”

Kalamazoo Christian finishes the year with a record of 20-3-3.   Lansing Christian ends at 23-2-2.   Listen back to the contest below:

PREVIEW: Kalamazoo Christian, Lansing Christian Compete for Division 4 Title

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Listen live online Saturday at 1 p.m. via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio to the MHSAA Division 4 girls soccer state championship match between the Kalamazoo Christian Comets and the Lansing Christian Pilgrims.

The Comets are a perfect 4-0 in state final matches, previously winning the title in 2008, 07, 04, and 03.  Ranked eighth in the final coaches poll, Kalamazoo Christian is 20-2-3 overall, defeating second-ranked Hackett Catholic (1-0), Lawton (5-0), Covenant Christian (2-0), Black River (2-0), and 16th-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central (2-0) in the postseason.  All but one of their wins this season came via the shutout, including 16 consecutive shutouts.

Lansing Christian is in the final for the third time in program history, having taken second in 2015 and 2011.  Ranked first in the final poll at 22-2-2, the Pilgrims saw postseason wins over Laingsburg (2-0), #19 Dansville (5-0), #18 Bath (8-0), #5 Jackson Lumen Christi (2-1), #14 Manchester (4-1) and last year’s champion #11 University Liggett (2-0).

Listen live online to all of the action from Williamston High School on the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. for the Division 4 state championship.

RECAP/AUDIO: Kalamazoo Christian Reaches Girls Soccer Final For Fifth Time

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The Kalamazoo Christian Comets advanced to the MHSAA Division 4 girls soccer championship match with a 2-0 victory over the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders in Wednesday’s semifinal from Comstock Park High School.

The Comets scored the opening goal roughly six minutes into the contest, as sophomore forward Kayla Beebe tallied her team-best 29th goal with 34:15 remaining.   The score held at 1-0 until freshman Lauryn Mohney scored her 10th goal with 33:27 left in the second half.   Once again, the defense held firm, grabbing their 16th consecutive shutout.  The game ended with 1:45 remaining due to an incoming thunderstorm.

Muskegon Catholic Central finishes at 21-4-1, ending what was their deepest ever postseason run.   The Comets move to 21-2-2 and will now play in their fifth state championship, having gone 4-0 with titles in 2008, 07, 04, and 03.  They meet Lansing Christian, who downed last season’s champion University Liggett 2-0 in their semifinal.   Lansing Christian is 0-2 in championship matches, having taken the runner-up spot in 2015 and 2011.   The final is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. from Williamston High School.

Listen back to the Comets’ semifinal win below:

PROGRAMMING NOTE:  The broadcasting status of the final depends on Friday’s state baseball results.   If Schoolcraft baseball wins their semifinal, the Slocum Sports Network/Michigan Sports Radio would broadcast the Eagles in their final Saturday at 2:30.   If Schoolcraft loses Friday, there wouldn’t be a conflict and that would allow for broadcast of the soccer final.    Finals broadcasts are also available via the MHSAA.

PREVIEW: Kalamazoo Christian Battles Muskegon Catholic Central in Semifinal

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Listen live online Wednesday at 7 p.m. via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio as the Kalamazoo Christian Comets face the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders in a Division 4 girls soccer semifinal from Comstock Park High School.   The winner advances to Saturday’s state championship at Williamston High School against either number-one ranked Lansing Christian or defending champion University Liggett.

Kalamazoo Christian enters at 20-2-2, having defeated Black River and Covenant Christian, both 2-0, in last week’s regional tournament.   It’s the second time in three years the Comets have made the semifinals, with Kalamazoo Christian losing 5-1 to eventual state champion Calvin Christian back in 2015.   The Comets have made it to the championship four times, each time taking the title.   The most recent visit was 2008, with additional crowns in 2007, 2004, and 2003.

The Crusaders are 21-3-1 overall, having defeated Elk Rapids in overtime 2-1 in the regional final and flattening Saginaw Nouvel 8-0 in the semifinal.   It is the first time Muskegon Catholic Central has made it to this point.

Listen live online to all of the action via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday from Comstock Park.

RECAP/AUDIO: Kalamazoo Christian Blanks Black River, Moves to Semifinal

0608171949aFor the second time in three seasons, the Kalamazoo Christian Comets defeated the Black River Rats 2-0 to claim a Regional title and advance to the Division 4 semifinals.  Thursday, the Comets had seven corner kicks in the first half and used one for the opening goal, as Haley Balkema scored off Meagan Laaksonen’s corner with 15:27 remaining.

“We worked on corners with Haley,” said Comet head coach Jay Allen.     “On Tuesday, she missed two with her head over the net.   Yesterday, we spent a lot of time working on corners and today she karate-chopped one into the back.”

Black River had two shots on goal in the first half and suffered a huge blow late in the first when top-scorer Kayla Brothers took a deflection to the face, keeping her out the rest of the game.

“We kept a shadow on her at all times.   When she came out, that allowed us one more player to be able to attack,” said Allen.

57 seconds into the second half, a rocket from Lauryn Mohney deflected off the crossbar to Balkema, who finished for her second goal.   The Comets then prevented the Rats from getting a shot on net in the second half and kept them almost exclusively on their own side of the field.   The shutout gives Kalamazoo Christian 15 consecutive clean sheets dating back to April 22.  They improve to 20-2-2 overall and are into their second semifinal for coach Allen, in his fourth season at the helm.   He served as an assistant for their four state championships in the mid 2000’s and sees similarities between those squads and this one.

“It’s very similar.   The same work ethic as the 2008, 07, 04 and 2003 teams,” noted Allen.

Black River ends the year at 16-8-1, matching their deepest postseason run.  It was the final game for seniors Brothers, Jasmin Bocanegra, Danae Winia, Maggie Christie, and Ashlynn Seymour.

“Really good role models of what we want the program to be like,” noted Black River coach Kyle Lawton.

“K-Christian’s a really good team, we knew that coming in.  I think they’ve got a good chance to win two more games,” added Lawton.

The Comets move to the semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. from Comstock Park High School against Muskegon Catholic Central, who won their Regional final in overtime 2-1 over Elk Rapids.   You can listen live online to Wednesday’s match on the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.

Listen back to Thursday’s Regional final below:

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RECAP/AUDIO: Kalamazoo Christian, Black River Advance to Regional 13 Final

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The Kalamazoo Christian Comets and Black River Rats advanced to Thursday’s girls soccer Regional 13 final thanks to shutout victories Tuesday at Kalamazoo College.   The eighth-ranked Comets defeated Covenant Christian 2-0 in the first game, followed by a 1-0 Rat win over 13th-ranked Michigan Lutheran.

In game one, the Comets got ahead with 5:20 remaining in the first half on senior Haley Balkema’s 17th goal of the season.   Kalamazoo Christian kept the ball on the good side of the field for almost the entire second half, picking up their second goal with 16:56 remaining on sophomore Kayla Beebe’s team-best 28th goal.

“We made some adjustments at halftime, pushed our holding center-midfielders up to prevent their back-line from getting good solid clears.” said Comet coach Jay Allen.

“Things are clicking, goals are falling, and our defense is maintaining a good streak of no goals allowed,” added Allen.  The win pushed their shutout streak to 14 games, last surrendering a goal in late April.   Kalamazoo Christian improved to 19-2-3 with the win.  Covenant finishes at 12-7-1.

In the second game, Black River’s Kayla Brothers got the lone goal with 23:46 left in the first half, adding to her school-record with 35 on the year.   Solid defense, especially from senior Jasmin Bocanegra and goalkeeper Katie Banaszak, kept the Titans off the board.   They had one last chance in the final two minutes, but Banaszak made a great diving save to preserve the shutout.

“Our defense has been solid all year,” said Black River coach Kyle Lawton.  Jasmin’s been the leader back there and Katie seems to make big save after big save in key situations, just like she did tonight.”

Black River moves to 16-7-1 with the win and Michigan Lutheran takes their only loss, finishing 13-1-1.   Black River and Kalamazoo Christian are both in the Regional final for the first time since 2015, when they met with a 2-0 Comet victory.   You can listen Thursday at 6 p.m. from Kalamazoo College on the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.

Listen back to both matches from Tuesday below:

KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN VS COVENANT CHRISTIAN

BLACK RIVER VS MICHIGAN LUTHERAN

PREVIEW: Girls Soccer Regional #13

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Listen live online Tuesday and Thursday through Michigan Sports Radio and the Slocum Sports Network to the Regional 13 girls soccer tournament from Kalamazoo College’s Mackenzie Field.  Play begins Tuesday at 5 p.m. with the Kalamazoo Christian Comets against the Covenant Christian Chargers.  At 6:30 p.m., the Black River Rats meet the Michigan Lutheran Titans.   The winners meet at 6 p.m. Thursday with a trip to the final four at stake.

Based on the latest Division 4 Coaches Poll, Kalamazoo Christian is the top-rated team in the Regional.   The eighth-ranked Comets first knocked off second-ranked Hackett Catholic 1-0 in the final seconds of last week’s district tournament, then dropped Lawton 5-0 in the district final, putting the Comets at 18-2-3 overall and giving them seven consecutive district crowns.   Kalamazoo Christian hasn’t allowed a goal since April 22, putting up 13 consecutive clean sheets.

Covenant earned their first district title of the new millennium with three wins.   After pounding Zion Christian 6-0 and Potter’s House 8-0, they edged Calvin Christian 1-0 in the district final.   Their overall record is currently unavailable.

In the second game, Michigan Lutheran enters ranked 13th at 13-0-1 overall.  The Titans edged Bridgman 2-1 and Lake Michigan Catholic 4-2 for their first Regional appearance since 2003.  They tied in their opener back in late March and haven’t lost since.

Black River returns to the Regional round for the second time in three years, having been eliminated two years ago in the final by Kalamazoo Christian.   The Rats are 15-7-1 with district victories over Watervliet (8-0), Bangor (4-2), and Saugatuck (7-0).

Listen live online to the Regional 13 action from Kalamazoo College through the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   Tuesday sees Kalamazoo Christian and Covenant at 5 p.m., followed by Black River and Michigan Lutheran around 6:30.   The winners meet Thursday at 6 p.m.

RECAP: Hackett, K-Christian Suspended Late in 1st Half, Ruled 0-0 Tie, Split SAC Title

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Tied 0-0 with 13:26 remaining in the first half, a distant rumble of thunder stopped the de facto Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC) girls soccer championship game between #2 Hackett Catholic and #8 Kalamazoo Christian.   Because of continuing thunder, no available lights, and Kalamazoo Christian’s graduation later in the night, they were unable to resume the contest.

Generally, you must complete at least one half of play for a game to be ruled official.   However, with the district tournament rematch set for Thursday, June 1, and with the Memorial Day weekend, the window to resume the game is very tight.   Thus, it was agreed to officially call the game a tie.   As a result, Hackett and Kalamazoo Christian split the SAC championship, both finishing the season at 9-0-1 in league play.    Hackett sits at 13-1-4 overall with K-Christian at 15-2-3.

Kalamazoo Christian has no more regular season games scheduled, while Hackett travels this Thursday to Parchment.    The Comets and Irish play again at 6:45 p.m. next Thursday in the district 52 tournament at Lawton High School.

Listen back to Wednesday’s game below:

PREVIEW: #2 Hackett Catholic, #8 Kalamazoo Christian Meet For SAC Championship

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Listen live Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network to girls soccer with Hackett Catholic facing Kalamazoo Christian from Kalamazoo College’s Mackenzie Field.   The contest will determine the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion, as both teams enter at a perfect 9-0 against all other SAC opponents this season.

Hackett sits at 13-1-3 overall, ranked second in this week’s Division 4 Coaches Poll.  The Irish have 12 shutouts on the year, with their lone loss back on April 22 against Loy Norrix.   Meanwhile, the eighth-ranked Comets sit at 15-2-2, riding a streak of 11 consecutive clean sheets.   On Saturday, Kalamazoo Christian avenged their regional loss from last year over Western Michigan Christian.

In addition to being a de facto title game, it serves as a preview of their June 1st district 52 tournament match at Lawton.   Despite the recent success from both programs, Kalamazoo Christian has controlled the rivalry recently.  In their last 12 meetings, the Comets hold an 11-0-1 advantage.   They had a 1-1 draw in a non-league game last season, with Kalamazoo Christian winning their league match (7-0) and district match (1-0).  Hackett’s last victory over the Comets came on May 2, 2012.

Listen live to Wednesday’s SAC Championship on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 3:45 p.m. at Kalamazoo College.