BY ED WRIGHT
April 13, 2010, 12:15 p.m.
McKenzie Hengesh has played with Marissa Williams long enough to know that if you give the gifted goal-keeper a one-goal lead, it usually stands up.
Hengesh did just that in the 11th minute of Monday night's non-conference clash against visiting Ann Arbor Huron when she out-hustled the River Rats' defenders for a loose ball just outside the 18-yard-box, dribble five yards to the right then unleashed an un-saveable arching shot that she tucked into the upper-left corner of the net.
Williams stopped 11 Huron shots the rest of the way to preserve the Wildcats' impressive 1-0 victory.
"I play travel soccer with Marissa, too, so I have 100-percent confidence in her," said Hengesh, a junior who led the 'Cats in goals as a sophomore. "If we can score one goal for her, that's usually enough. She always seems to come up with some big saves for us in the end."
The victory improved the Wildcats' record to 1-0-1. Huron, which is a perennial Washtenaw County power, slipped to 0-1.
"We had some good moments and we had some bad moments, but all in all, considering we were just coming back from spring break, it was a good win against a good opponent," said Plymouth coach Jeff Neschich.
Neschich said Hengesh doesn't need a lot of space to perform her offensive magic.
"On her goal tonight, she got a little clearing, then blasted a perfect shot," said Neschich. "It was a strong move and a strong shot."
Neschich's review of Williams' night was glowing, too.
"She looked really solid back there," he said. "She just looks really comfortable and in charge."
The Wildcats also received stellar efforts from Megan Peplinski, who returned to the game in the second half after getting carried off eight minutes before halftime with an apparent leg injury.
Stephanie Dillon, Katie Krajewski, Meeghan Hughes and Katie Moss also came up big for the winners.
Huron's Beth Boyer came close to knotting the score at 1-all twice in the final 21 minutes of the first half. With 20:45 left before intermission, she sent an 18-yard bender just a few feet wide of the left post.
Eight minutes later, Boyer had her leg cocked and ready to uncork a shot at an empty net, but the hustling Williams pounced on the loose ball just inside the 18-yard-box line before Boyer could finish her stride.
A Huron corner kick nearly led to an equalizing net-finder 11:05 into the second half, but Williams managed to fight through a maze of River Rats on the doorstep and smother the ball before any damage could be done.
Plymouth fans had to hold their collective breath with 2:45 left when a Huron player chipped a shot past Williams and into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed due to an offside call.
Huron keeper Michelle Freed played very well, too, stopping nine Wildcat shots.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or email@example.com.