BY ED WRIGHT
June 4, 2010, 1:05 a.m.
As if her All-State-caliber skills weren't enough, Plymouth junior goal-keeper Marissa Williams threw some head games at Northville during the shoot-out that followed the teams' 110 minutes of scoreless, District semifinal soccer Thursday night at Livonia Stevenson High School.
As the first of five Mustang penalty kickers teed the ball up at the 10-yard line, the referee asked Williams if she was ready.
"No sir, not yet," she said, drawing moans from the Northville faithful and chuckles from her teammates.
A second inquiry by the ref drew the same response from Williams, igniting even louder moans from the crowd.
Asked a third time if she was ready, Williams nodded and replied, "Yep, I'm ready."
Was she ever.
Diving horizontally to her right, she pushed away Andrea Stark's low bullet, setting off an eruptive cheer from the Plymouth side of the grandstands.
After Abby Livingston buried Plymouth's first PK, Williams went through the same routine: not ready, sir; not, ready, sir; ready, sir; second huge save, this time on Caroline Castelli.
After Jessica Scott drained the Wildcats' second PK to put them up 2-0, Williams proved she was human, yielding two straight shoot-out goals.
But when Katie Moss, Plymouth's fourth shooter, blasted in her chance, it built a 4-2 shootout lead (Jessica Heck converted the third PK) for the 'Cats and created a deficit the Mustangs couldn't overtake.
Plymouth players swarmed the field in jubilation, celebrating a monumental victory over the No. 2-ranked team in the state.
"Coach Mario said, 'Go stand out on the 6-yard-line if you're feeling it," when asked about her effective shoot-out psych job. "That's not my style, but I thought I'd play a few mind games with them just to mix it up."
Williams said her shoot-out strategy is pretty straight-forward.
"I'm mostly guessing," she said, smiling. "One thing I'm looking for is the way their hips are turning. I talked to the girls on my team and they said if they turn their hips one way, they're probably shooting the other. It doesn't always work that way, but it worked tonight."
Williams said she loves the pressure-packed games.
"I like them because they make memories for a lifetime," she said. "We needed this so badly and we got it done."
Williams had a lot of help from her friends, particularly defenders Moss, Meeghan Hughes, Katie Krajewski, Alyssa Burris and Katelyn Quinlan, who left late in the second half with a concussion.
The Wildcats' defense blanked Northville All-State forward Mallory Weber, whose other-worldly skills are capable of producing a hat-trick at the drop of a hat.
"Mallory was making plays on me all night," said Williams. She is great. She's muscle everywhere and she's fast and strong."
Plymouth coach Jeff Neschich didn't mince words when asked where Thursday's victory ranked in his tenure with the Wildcats.
"It one-ups the one we got on them last year," said Neschich, whose team will tangle with cross-campus rival Salem in Saturday's noon final. "We had to play great defense the whole night. That is one stacked club. And their No. 14, Mallory Weber, oh my gosh, she's good. It took all four defenders to stop her - she was that good.
"Northville is a very strong club. My hat's off to our kids for playing defense the way they did.
"And Marissa was phenomenal. "She stoned them on the first two PK's, which was huge."
Neschich said he had an idea Williams was going to try her stalling tactics during the shoot-out.
"She did it at practice a few times; it upset the coach, too," Neschich said, chuckling.
Northville owned possession of the ball probably 80 percent of the second half as Mustangs goalie Shelby Foerg was about as busy -- and lonely -- as a Maytag repairman.
The action was packed in the 18-yard box in front of Willliams, who time and again hugged Mustang-launched rockets.
The Wildcats' defensive wall -- particularly Hughes and Moss -- squashed golden Northville scoring opportunities time and time again.
Also playing well for the winners were mid-fielders, Vittoria Miller, Jennifer Babcock, Heck, Jessica Scott, Zoe Foster, Livingston and Stephanie Dillon.
Making strong runs -- especially in the first half -- for Plymouth were forwards Megan Peplinski and McKenzie Hengesh.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(9) directs a header upfield during the first half of Thursday's game.
(Ed Wright photo)
Wildcats' defense in the 18-yard box was inpenetrable most of the
night. (Ed Wrigh photo)
Meeghan Hughes (20) cleared the ball out of harm's way a split-second before Northville dynamo Mallory Weber (14) could get her shoe on it. (Ed Wright photo)
Katie Krajewski stays between the ball and Northville's Mallory Weber
Thursday night. (Ed Wright photo).