Spartans Douse Firebirds and Advance

Posted on: October 22, 2021
Girls soccer
The girls soccer team entered the post season as the #18 seed in Southwest Ohio, but winners in 6 of their last 10 contests.  The Spartans were giving up only 0.5 goals per game over that stretch and playing high level soccer at both ends of the pitch.  The feeling around the program was they matched up well against any team in the draw, but the players were especially glad to be paired against the Lakota West Firebirds in the first round.  Lakota previously defeated Turpin, in that 10 game stretch, by a score of 1-0.  In fact, the Firebirds had beaten the Spartans 4 times in the last 3 seasons, including 7-1 in last season’s sectional finals.  The Spartans (7-10 overall, 4-5 ECC) got their revenge with a 1-0 victory on the road to advance to the second round on Thursday evening.  Kate Hooper scored her team-leading 8th goal in the 35th minute, taking the assist from Sydney Riley, in the game’s only scoring.  Mallory Harsha posted the clean sheet for her 5th shutout of the year and Brooke Heis led the defense with 5 tackles won.
The Spartans started the game off with great energy and enthusiasm, a hallmark of their late season surge.  Defensively Heis was a force to be reckoned with immediately, winning two tackles in the first 2 minutes.  Claire Klimkowski didn’t let her fellow senior have all the fun, sticking 2 tackles of her own early on as the Spartans controlled the pace of play and the middle of the field.  In the 11th minute, center back Keely McCosh fired a pass up the sideline to Riley who then crossed the ball to Grace Henning in the first good scoring chance.  Henning’s shot went just wide to the left of goal, but the fans could sense the Spartans had more juice where that came from.  Brooke Wilson and Klimkowski would each get good shots off on the Firebird keeper in the next 10 minutes.  Hooper’s breakthrough came in the 31st minute of action as Riley trapped the ball in the center of the field and fired a pass to the hard charging Hooper on the right corner of the box.  Perfectly placed pass and perfectly placed shot equaled a 1-0 Spartan lead.
Playoff soccer is such an emotional roller coaster and the Spartans knew they’d get everything Lakota West could through at them in the second half.  Early on Henning found Hooper on a run to the goal, but the shot was blocked.  Similarly, Klimkowski got free on a run only to have her shot deflected away.  The Firebirds were aggressive and pressed Turpin at every opportunity.  Their best opportunity came late in the game, in the 74th minute as they peppered Harsha with 2 shots in a 20 second span.  Mallory was up to the task though and turned away each opportunity for the opponent.  As the clocked rolled towards zero the players on the sideline were on their feet and the fans in the stands were loud and boisterous.  And in the end, the Spartans were victorious!
Turpin has a quick turnaround as they face the Walnut Hills Eagles at Walnut Hill on Thursday evening at 7:00 PM.  Walnut Hills enters the matchup with the #11 seed and had a bye in the first round. 
Unofficial Stats:
Scoring: Hooper-1 goal, 2 pts; Riley-1 assist, 1 point
Shots: Hooper-2, Klimkowski-2, Henning-1, L Johnson-1, Wilson-1
Saves: Harsha-6
Tackles Won: Heis-5, Klimkowski-4, L Johnson-3, McCosh-2, Sirotak-2, Henning-1, Riley-1, Sheffer-1