JV Gold arrived at Spartan Stadium for its final game of the season Tuesday evening against newly-minted conference foe, the West Clermont Wolves. Fresh off a disappointing 1-1 tie at Lakota West, where West put in a last minute equalizer, Gold warmed up under overcast skies. By the first whistle, the clouds had given way to steady rain.
Lacking momentum and optimal game time conditions, the team might have packed it in.
Yet this group of girls played one of their best games of the season against a surprisingly pesky opponent.
Turpin opened the game with the pressure and possession-style play they'd used during their best games this year. Moving the ball quickly to the feet of their teammates allowed the Spartans to test the West Clermont keeper early. Midfielders Eva Bowen and Ella Tierney took good chances within minutes of kickoff, but the Wolves' goalie handled the slippery ball well.
While West Clermont managed several runs in transition, Turpin's defense shut down its attack, largely keeping the Wolves from entering the eighteen. Defenders Sarah Tackett, Emma Young, Emma Smith and CeCi Malagari along with Ava Singer and Grace Miller consistently won the ball and distributed upfield.
Midway through first half, Turpin's possession game faltered and momentum swung to the visiting side. West Clermont kept the ball largely in Turpin's half for a stretch of time. The Spartan defense began to release pressure long, eventually finding Ella Tierney on the wing.
Tierney got loose and drove down the line to goal. Though her shot went wide, the run seemed to settle the team. The Spartans regained possession on the Wolves' ensuing goal kick and kept it for the remainder of the half.
Turpin again worked the ball from the center of the field out wide. Kallista Rogers, playing in the attacking mid role, and holding mid Eva Bowen combined often and distributed well to initiate the Spartan offense. Turpin then attacked at will, keeping West Clermont chasing in its own half. Cate Ward turned her defender several times to make runs up the side, and Natalie Wilson's tough play in the middle supported Gold's offensive efforts.
The team couldn't quite find its finishing touch, however, and the score remained tied 0-0 at half.
Though the Wolves began the second half with possession, the Spartans immediately won the ball and pressed forward. Players from every line contributed to the attack, moving the ball quickly and confidently to teammates. Any Wolves who found themselves with the ball at their feet were pressured into giving it up.
Unfortunately, the Spartans' hard-nosed determination to win these balls caught the attention of the referees, who began whistling any form of physical play. The pace of the game slowed as a result, but the Spartans simply won ball back and resumed their attack, remaining focused on getting the go-ahead goal.
Turpin let loose a barrage of shots on the Wolves' net throughout the half. Forwards GiGi Bush, Rachel Goldsmith and Kate Muscatello along with midfielder Taylor Black put balls on frame. CeCi Malagari hit a rocket off a corner that the diving Wolves goalie just managed to push wide. Kerianne White made an attempt from outside the box that was reminiscent of her far post score against Lakota West just days before. With minutes to go, Ella Tierney banged one off the cross bar.
As time wound down, the Spartans rained cross after cross into West Clermont's 18-yard box. Though they came close, Turpin just couldn't find the back of the net. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Spartan goalies Emme Ritzenthaler and Anna McLelland combined to earn the shutout.
Though the game’s result was not what the Spartans had hoped for, the score didn't do justice to the effort and execution that JV Gold showed in their last game of the 2017 season. Their performance gives Coach Jim Abend a lot to look forward to as these young ladies continue their soccer careers at Turpin.