For Michelle Turner, Park Ridgeï¿½s showdown against Cresskill was more than trying to beat a rival for the first time. It was gut-check time for her and all of her teammates. They needed to prove to themselves they are still an elite team despite some bad recent results that would suggest otherwise.
Behind Turnerï¿½s hat trick and extremely tight defense, No. 21 Park Ridge beat Cresskill, 5-0, in girls soccer. In the process the Owls ended a two game losing streak and stopped No. 16 Cresskillï¿½s undefeated season. The seniors also beat their longtime rivals for the first time in their career.
“It was important for us to get this win because weï¿½re back on track,” Turner said. “Those two losses were kind of a reality check for us. We kind of had a feeling of invincibility before that. Now weï¿½ve got our flow and momentum back.”
After losing two straight, Park Ridge (7-2) showed from the opening whistle how determined it was not to make it three in a row. The entire team was a step quicker than Cresskill to loose balls and was constantly in motion when it didnï¿½t have the ball. Park Ridge applied pressure on offense from the onset and broke through when Turner headed home a corner kick to the far post.
Proving it wasnï¿½t content with a one-goal lead, Park Ridge continued to apply pressure with deep passes into the box. It upped its lead to two a few minutes later after a failed clearing by Cresskill landed right at the feet of Julia Perez at the top of the box. She collected the errant pass and shot it past the outstretched hands of Cresskill goalie Katherine Pascetta (13 saves) to the far corner.
“We were taking our frustration out,” Turner said. “We were letting out all of our steam on them. It could have been anybody. But it wound up being perfect timing.”
Cresskill (9-1) tried to get things going offensively with a few long passes of its own. But nothing got past Park Ridge defender Haley Azevedo. She played a deep sweeper position and dominated the middle of the field, cleaning up any run Cresskill tried to make and clearing the long passes flicked toward her.
Park Ridge ended any hope of a comeback by scoring five minutes into the second half on Turnerï¿½s second goal off a set piece and Turner completed the hat trick with an upper left rocket .
“We played with complete intensity for 80 minutes and that was something we wanted to do because we hadnï¿½t before,” captain Erin Schoch said. “We all came together and got back on our feet.”
BY: BRIAN A. GIUFFRA