BY ED WRIGHT
April 2, 2010, 4 p.m.
With the most-successful season in school history still fresh in the their minds, members of Plymouth's girls soccer team will be shooting for an even better encore this spring.
And no one who follows the Wildcats closely will be surprised if they succeed in bettering last year's more-than-admirable 13-4-1 campaign.
The Wildcats came within an eyelash of capturing Plymouth's first girls soccer District title when they upended a powerhouse Northville squad in a first-round match before losing 1-0 to Canton in an unforgettable semifinal showdown.
The Chiefs hung on when defender Alyssa Cottrell somehow managed to divert an up-close rocket shot by Wildcat Jessica Heck in the game's final moments.
Plymouth lost key contributors Kelly Dobbs and Liz Koet to graduation, but return the bulk of last year's superb squad.
"We're returning a lot of very solid players," said head coach Jeff Neschich, who is entering his seventh season at the helm. "It looks like we may be a little faster and a little sharper than last year. We have very good balance, too."
The Wildcats return one of the area's top goal-keepers, Marissa Williams, a rare three-year starter who picked up Monday where she left off last year, shutting out Dexter in the season opener.
"She's just so solid," said Neschich. "She's very athletic and so committed to the game."
Williams has plenty of help in front of her, most notably four-year varsity defender Meeghan Hughes, who was voted co-captain along with Heck. Katie Krajeswki, Katie Moss Alyssa Burris and Kaitlin Quinlan round out the 'Cats' lock-down defensive crew.
Williams' back-up will be sophomore Kaitlin Watson, who will also see time in the mid-field, Neschich assured.
Four returners regulars solidify the mid-field: Heck, Vittoria Miller, Jen Babcock and senior Carley McQuiston. A trio of sophomores -- Melissa Aho, Abby Livingston and Jessica Scott -- will also be vying for time in the mid-field. Freshman mid-fielder Zoe Foster will also play a key role for the Wildcats.
Neschich used the word "dynamic" to describe his contingent of forwards, and for good reason. Junior McKenzie Hengesh, an All-KLAA performer as a sophomore who led the team with 15 goals, and Megan Peplinski, who scored 11 goals as a freshman, will anchor the offense. Freshman Stephanie Dillon is also expected to have an immediate impact, too, Neschich said.
Ed Wright can be
reached at (734) 453-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.