If the Plymouth and Northville boys soccer teams were looking for a high-intensity, fast-paced, down-to-the-wire tune-up for next week's Division 1 District tournament, they got it Tuesday night.
One night after their game was delayed by lightning, the Wildcats and Mustangs battled to a spirited 1-1 draw.
Both teams will conclude regular-season play Wednesday night.
The 'Cats will open District action Monday at home against cross-campus rival Canton.
Tuesday's play picked up with 29:53 left in the first half, which was dominated by the defenses. Shining on the back-line for the Wildcats were Connor Downey, Stephen Jahn, Michael Ambrose and Mitch Vaughn.
Senior goal-keeper Kyle Brindza made three first-half stops.
A Northville forward dribbled through the heart of the Wildcats' defense with just seconds remaining in the first half, but the horn sounded before he could get a shot off.
Plymouth grabbed a 1-0 lead with 34:30 left in the game when Derek Austin knocked home a perfectly struck header off a sensational dead-on cross from Andrew Yoder.
Lightning nearly struck twice for Austin moments later when he managed to get behind the Mustangs' defense with a strong run up the left flank, but he was unable to get enough zip on the ensuing shot.
With 23:05 left, Plymouth keeper Rene Mejia, who replaced Brindza at the intermission, stuffed a Joey Zywiol rocket that was launched just inside the 18-yard box.
Five minutes later, the Mustangs' amped-up attack struck gold when Mike Bojovic's sizzling shot from the door-step banged off Mejia's chest and straight to Fatai Alashe, who tipped the rebound into the back of the net to knot the game at 1-1.
Austin came within inches of helping the Wildcats reclaim the lead, but his shot from a tough angle 12 yards out ricocheted off the left post.
Brindza, who re-entered the game with 14 minutes to play, made a sweet save to defuse a Northville set-piece opportunity, leaping high to fist the ball out of harm's way.
Brindza stepped to the forefront again with 2:36 on the clock when he redirected a Northville break-away shot that softly hit the right post before rolling out of bounds.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or email@example.com.
Joe Klonowski barely misses getting a head on a first-half cross. (Ed Wright photo)
Russ prepares to unleash a left-footed rocket. (Ed Wright
assisted on the Wildcats' lone goal. (Ed Wright photo)
meets resistance on this first-half run. (Ed Wright photo)
Plymouth's Stephen Jahn was solid all night on the back-line. (Ed Wright photo)