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Late PK propels Canton over Plymouth in drama-coated P-CEP match

 Late PK propels Canton over Plymouth in drama-coated P-CEP match

Canton’s Taylor Steinagel and Plymouth’s Ivy Turnquist pursue the ball.

Hands on her hips, the result of Canton’s Senior Night showdown against Plymouth resting on her right foot, Chief senior captain Alexis Pickerel was in deep thought during the seconds leading up to her penalty kick with 5 minutes and 23 seconds remaining in Thursday night’s game.

“As I’m standing there looking at the ball, I decide which side I’m more comfortable with,” Pickerel said. “Once I decide, I imagine it and then I kick it.”

Pickerel, who was a perfect 1-for-1 on PKs this season, chose to place the ball in the upper 90 of the right side of the goal — exactly where the perfectly-struck ball landed.

She was immediately engulfed by her jubilant teammates.

Perfect shot

The shot was so well-placed, 7-foot-4 NBA Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama wouldn’t have been able to keep it out of the net — even if he had guessed right, which Plymouth goal-keeper Grace Cheetam did.

Carly Noe advances the ball during the showdown against Plymouth
Carly Noe advances the ball during the showdown against Plymouth

Pickerel’s PK was the only goal in Canton’s 1-0 victory, which came on the night the Chiefs’ seniors were recognized.

To check out video highlights from Thursday’s game, click here.

That there are 14 seniors on the roster made the win that much more special, Pickerel said.

“It felt amazing, since it’s Senior Night and we always want to win the Park games,” she said. “We’re still alive to win the Park championship, too. Since we won, we only have to tie or beat Salem (on Tuesday). They’re a very good team, so it won’t be easy.”

The PK resulted from Canton senior Grace Tarquinto getting fouled in the 18-yard box as she elevated for a rainbow delivery by Scarlett Nuechterlein.

West title possible

Kendall Elmy controls the ball
Kendall Elmy controls the ball

The Chiefs, who were ranked No. 12 in Division 1 in the latest Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association poll, can still capture the KLAA West Division.

Canton is 7-1-4 (25 points) in the division, five points behind front-runner Hartland (9-1-3, 30 points).

The Chiefs close divisional play with a Friday make-up game against Howell and Tuesday night’s match against Salem.

To capture the West title outright, the Chiefs would need to win their final two games and hope the Eagles lose to Plymouth on Tuesday.

Julia Tasker booms a goal kick
Julia Tasker booms a goal kick

Cheetam and the Wildcats’ backline — including Isabella Fabrizio, Abby Knauf, Abigail Tiplady and Samantha Portman — played air-tight defense throughout the night.

Plymouth senior Kendall Elmy played well throughout the 80-minute rivalry game.

Both teams’ ‘D’ exceptional

Cheetam’s best effort of the evening came in the first half when she smothered Canton senior Taylor Steinagel’s sizzling, ground-hugging centering pass from near the left end. Had Cheetam not secured the ball, Tarquinto was ready to touch the rebound into the net.

Canton’s defense was even better.

Plymouth sophomore Abigail Kuehneman battles for possession
Plymouth sophomore Abigail Kuehneman battles for possession

Senior keeper Julia Tasker sparkled until she was forced to leave the game with an injury early in the second half after she re-directed Fabrizio’s spot-on, arching free kick from close to mid-field.

As the ball rolled toward the goal line, Steinagel alertly cleared it out of harm’s way.

Tasker was replaced by junior Bella Kanaan, who extinguished a golden Plymouth scoring chance mid-way through the second half when she dove into a scrum about 10 yards in front of the net to cover up the ball and prevent Plymouth’s dangerous Emma Johnson from booting it into the goal.

The two teams could meet again later in the month in the MHSAA D1 district tournament hosted by Livonia Stevenson.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or

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Ed Wright

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