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Plymouth-vs.-Canton girls soccer rivalry game great to the last shot

 Plymouth-vs.-Canton girls soccer rivalry game great to the last shot

Canton and Plymouth players struggle for possession during Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw.

Soaked with intensity, uniqueness and top-shelf skills, Plymouth-Canton Educational Park girls soccer rivalry matches usually aren’t decided by little things.

They’re decided by microscopic things.

Case in point: Tuesday night’s Canton-vs.-Plymouth drama-fest that ended in a 2-2 draw due in part to a ball-clearing attempt near the goal crease that missed the intended point of a defender’s forehead by an inch or two; and a potential mid-game, match-clinching scoring chance that deflected off the top half of the cross-bar instead of the bottom half.

“One thing I’ve learned since I’ve been here is that games between Park teams don’t make sense, they’re not normal games,” said third-year Canton Head Coach George Easter, managing a small smile before admitting that his team’s tie against the Wildcats felt like a loss considering the Chiefs led 2-1 with just 3 minutes and 39 seconds remaining.

Maximizing opportunities

“It came down to we weren’t able to finish a couple great scoring chances and Plymouth managed to capitalize on the few chances they got.”

Plymouth goalie Grace Cheetam redirects a shot away from the net
Plymouth goalie Grace Cheetam redirects a shot away from the net

Plymouth Head Coach Victor Plasse echoed Easter’s thoughts regarding the one-of-a-kind atmosphere that surrounds the P-CEP rivalry clashes.

“There is so much added pressure with these Park games,” Plasse said. “The players from both teams have classes together, they see each other in the hallways the day after the game — you don’t see that anywhere else. It adds to the intensity of each game.”

Speaking of microscopic, Plymouth junior Victoria Powell’s game-tying, rainbow net-finder in the waning moments was so perfectly placed, it found air just a few inches above the leaping Canton goal-keeper’s outstretched hand and just a few inches below the bottom of the crossbar.

To watch a video of the goal unfold — as well as other match highlights — click here.

Instant glee

The goal sparked a wild Powell-centered celebration.

The Tuesday night rivalry match was well played by both teams
The Tuesday night rivalry match was well played by both teams

“There was a lot of chaos in that moment,” Powell reflected, smiling. “I felt a lot of love coming from my teammates. I felt a lot of energy and emotion because that goal kind of kept the team moving forward.”

Powell, who also netted the Wildcats’ first goal, pounced on a loose ball about 25 yards from the net and delivered a pinpoint shot that was the equivalent of a golfer dropping a long chip shot for eagle.

“When I see a scoring chance like that, it’s all very instinctive to me,” Powell said. “The second I saw that ball sitting there, I was like, ‘I have to go score that.’

“There were Canton players in front of me, so I had to get it in the air fast and kind of thread the needle. After I saw the ball go in, I kind of blacked out a little bit. It was very surreal.”

Wild, wild West

The result left Canton with a 3-1-2 record and 11 points in the tightly-contested KLAA West Division standings. The Chiefs are four points behind 5-1 Hartland.

A Canton player dribbles the ball up the field early in the game against Plymouth
A Canton player dribbles the ball up the field early in the game against Plymouth

Plymouth, which battled second-place Salem to a 1-1 draw earlier this month, is 0-2-2, with one of its division losses a 1-0 heartbreaker to Northville.

The P-CEP girls soccer drama series continues Thursday at 7 p.m. when Canton hosts Salem on the P-CEP varsity turf field.

“We want to be the best team at the Park,” Plasse asserted. “And after our first two games against Salem and Canton, I honestly believe we are the best team at the Park. We just have to play an entire 80 minutes and eliminate the mistakes that end up turning wins into draws.”

The Chiefs broke the scoring ice with 15:26 left in the first half when Nora Schley’s well-struck ball into the goal box glanced off a Plymouth defender’s forehead and off the fingertips of the Wildcats goalie before trickling across the goal line.

Close, but no goal

Canton came within an eyelash of extending its lead to 2-0 early in the second half (the scoreboard was inoperable throughout the final 40 minutes), however, Taylor Steinagel’s high-arching shot dinged the cross-bard and bounced in front of Plymouth goalie Grace Cheetam.

As Steinagel positioned herself to knock home the rebound, Powell defused the scoring chance by clearing the ball out of harm’s way.

Plymouth freshman Alexandrea Messina clears the ball as Ava Murphy moves in
Plymouth freshman Alexandrea Messina clears the ball as Ava Murphy moves in

A short time later, Powell, whose hybrid offense/defense role includes running the length of the pitch, took advantage of a mishandled ball about eight yards in front of the net by left-footing the floating sphere over the goal line to knot the game at 1-1.

“What’s funny is just a few seconds before that goal I felt like I was going to score,” Powell recalled. “In situations like that, you really have to focus on your shot placement even though you only have a split-second.”

With approximately 20 minutes remaining in the game, the Chiefs finished on a golden scoring chance when junior Kayla Rankin lasered a shot into the back of the net to give her team a 2-1 lead.

Just when it looked like Canton was about to secure a coveted victory, Powell struck again — putting the final touch on another classic P-CEP rivalry game.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

Canton senior Grace Tarquinto steers the ball away from Plymouth senior Abby Knauf
Canton senior Grace Tarquinto steers the ball away from Plymouth senior Abby Knauf
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Ed Wright

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