It was a roller coaster week for JV Gold Girls Soccer that saw the Spartans go 1-1 in two away games against the Kings Knights and McAuley Mohawks.
Spartans vs. Kings
With the remnants of hurricane Irma bearing down on the tri-state area, JV Gold took on Kings Tuesday night at Kings High School Stadium. The rain clouds broke up just in time for kickoff, much to the relief of players and parents.
Throughout the first half, the Spartans kept the ball in Kings' territory. Neither team possessed the ball for any length of time, trading deep lobs for deep lobs over the back line. Turpin controlled the game by virtue of overall superior athletic talent, while the Kings defense proved strong in its own right. The Spartans managed crosses and shots and earned multiple corner kicks, but couldn’t quite find the goal. The defensive battle – which included a goal-line save by defender Sarah Tackett - resulted in a 0-0 tie at halftime.
The second half opened with Kings stepping up their play. They found the feet of open teammates in the central midfield and passed around the Spartans, who always seemed a marker short in this critical area of the turf.
Kings managed to take a few shots and earn a corner kick or two, but were ultimately out-run and out-gunned by Turpin's defenders. Backs Sara Tackett, Emma Smith, Emma Young and CeCi Malagari contributed to snuff out the Kings attack and send the ball upfield.
Meanwhile, the Spartans kept up their dogged efforts to score. After fits and starts, Turpin finally put together a passing drive down the left flank. Victoria King collected a long pass out of the back and turned, finding Kallista Rogers out wide. Rogers dodged a defender and the Knights' adventurous goalie, who readily came off her line whenever the Spartans ventured unimpeded into the eighteen. She then slid a shot toward the empty net at a near-impossible angle, just catching the side netting on the far post.
Victoria King added to the score minutes later when she hit an unassisted rocket into the Knights' upper ninety from just outside the top corner of the penalty box.
As the minutes ticked away, the Knights seemed to run out of gas, posing minimal offensive threat for the remainder of the game. Emme Ritzenthaler and Natalie Wilson combined for the 2-0 shut out.
Spartans vs. McAuley
After a solid, though not-very-pretty, conference win at Kings, the Spartans arrived at McAuley's grass field on Saturday a little worse for the wear. Already short handed, several players missed the game due to illness while others were not feeling their best.
It was clear that the Mohawks were ready to play at kickoff. They came out sharp and determined, making crisp passing runs down the flanks backed up by physical, athletic play.
Unsettled and unsuccessful at their early attempts to possess, Turpin quickly turned away from its passing game and retreated to its lob-over-the-top strategy. McAuley's fast and aggressive backline made it difficult for the Spartan forwards to run down hopeful balls into space, and quick-whistled refs heaped on the frustration.
Meanwhile, the Mohawks focused on a fast and furious race to the end line. They played simple balls quickly from the middle of their backline, out to the flanks and up to their speedy forwards, repeatedly.
Still, McAuley's offense was unable to manage many shots. Spartan goalie Anna McLelland, who turned in a solid performance, was not terribly busy, as Turpin's defense stood strong. At half, the game was just 1-0. The Mohawks' scored toward the end of the period on a corner kick, with a beautiful one-touch header just inside the post.
The break helped the Spartans regroup. Turpin began to stick to a passing game, working the ball from the defensive flanks, through the middle and out wide again, creating more crosses and more chances in front of the Mohawks’ goal.
Going back to basics eventually paid off for the Spartans. Natalie Wilson, sitting in a seam up top, received the ball off a Turpin throw-in from Ella Tierney and drove toward goal. Her finish past a charging Mohawk keeper broke up the shutout and breathed new life into the visiting side.
Though the Mohawks put away two more goals in the second half - another header off a corner and a third goal by the same player on a shot from the top of the box - the Spartans finished strong, in the style that they’ve been working on all season. This bodes well for a busy upcoming week that features three games against tough competitors. Overall, JV Gold’s record on the season is 4-4-1.