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Turpin Snuffs Out Mercy McAuley’s Firepower on Way to 1-1 Draw

Posted on: August 29, 2019

Turpin traveled to the westside to take on the Mercy-McAuley Wolves on Thursday night before the long Labor Day weekend. Nursing a variety of injuries, Turpin’s Varsity squad relied on a contingent of reinforcements from the Gold team to contribute important minutes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Turpin scored first, leading the Wolves 1-0 at half before Mercy evened the game in the second, fighting for a full 80 minutes to earn the draw.

Before Thursday’s game, Coach Rich Mulvaney warned his team that the Wolves had beaten their last opponent, Fairfield, by a score of 8-1. Given that final score against a team the Spartans had lost to in the first game of the season, Turpin knew to expect a tough match – and they got one.

While the game started out relatively even, the Wolves were clearly capable on the attack, with size and speed to spare. But they also knew how to possess and use every inch of their small, grass home field, keeping wide and putting dangerous through balls down the flanks in behind Turpin’s defense. Kallista Rogers, filling in for injured starter Emma Smith, along with Sarah Tackett, provided crucial leadership at centerback to keep Mercy off the scoreboard.

About halfway though the first, Rogers lined up behind a direct kick near the 50-yard line. Using the short field to her advantage, she sent a strong shot in the air toward Mercy’s goal. The Wolves’ keeper tried to catch the ball cleanly but couldn’t get a handle on it, dropping it at the feet of Kerianne White. Always in the right spot at the right time, White capitalized on the miscue and flicked it in for the first score of the game.

Turpin held Mercy scoreless for the rest of the first. The defense worked hard to cover Mercy’s attack while the Wolves returned the favor to the visitors’ side. Forward Victoria King looked to have the Spartans’ second goal on the board three minutes before the whistle when she struck a rocket of a shot toward the inside of the near post. The Wolves’ keeper stretched out in a full-length dive to get a glove on it at the last second, managing to push it just wide.

Turpin keeper Brooke Heis, by contrast, was less busy in the first half than she had been in previous games. That changed in the second, when Mercy gained the momentum and kept the Spartans pinned in their own half. The Wolves continued to drive down the flanks, but also had the edge in possession in the middle of the field, connecting more easily and peppering Heis with shots from every angle.

Mercy scored in this early part of the half, with a header at the back post off a corner kick. After the tying goal, Turpin took the opportunity to reset, plugging the middle better, and once again forcing Mercy primarily to the flanks. Fresh legs there for the Spartans kept pace with the Wolves’ attackers, frustrating them with aggressive, ball-stealing play. Turpin took control of the game, spending more time in their offensive third but unable to get the go ahead goal.

Against the run of play, the Wolves put together one last effort to score with four minutes left in the game. They sent a shot just wide, then, over the next minute, forced Brooke Heis to make two game-saving plays before the Spartans were able to turn the ball upfield for good.

Coach Mulvaney was especially pleased with the team’s effort to elevate their play. "I love these challenges. We stepped up huge tonight! We have four starters out and the mentality I stressed to our players was ‘next player up.’ Our JV Gold players gave us quality minutes to make an impact. They proved themselves worthy of being ready to perform.” 

The tie brings Varsity’s record to 1-2-2 on the season. Conference play begins at home after the break against Walnut Hills.