Phoenix Pinnacle’s girls soccer team figured this to be a rebuilding season.
That was before a gift arrived this summer in the form of junior Kelsey Turnbow.
The 5-foot-7 striker, a two-time Washington state Gatorade Player of the Year, moved near Pinnacle from Spokane Valley last summer because of her father’s job transfer.
Suddenly, Pinnacle’s plans changed.
Now, with a lot of young players, there is hope to do better than just make it to the Division I playoffs. There is a realistic goal of doing what the 2013-14 team did — win it all.
That senior-loaded team went 20-3-3 and defeated Gilbert Perry 1-0 in the Division I final.
“I’ve only known her for a few months,” coach Suzanne Kirchner said of Turnbow. “Sweet girl.”
Turnbow is not only a gifted soccer player who already has committed to UC Santa Clara, but a 4.0 GPA student, who modestly just wants to fit in with a young group.
She not only will fit in, but lift the players around her to another level.
“The younger ones really look up to her,” Kirchner said. “She’s a great role model.”
Turnbow scored more than 50 goals in her first two high school seasons, leading Central Valley to back-to-back Washington state championships. She had 11 of her 31 goals in the playoffs last season.
“I’m so excited to be a part of Pinnacle’s soccer team this year,” she said. “Their program has a history of excellence with two recent state championships, so I feel fortunate to join a team with such great success. The players and coaching staff are awesome and everyone’s focused on being the best we can be this year.”
Pinnacle also won a Division II championship in 2011, before Kirchner took over the program.
Turnbow joined Les Armstrong’s SC del Sol club soccer program, where she feels she has made even more strides since leaving Washington.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be mentored by such amazing coaches both in high school and club, and to play soccer for a thriving club and school,” she said.
The season starts Monday.
Two years ago, when Pinnacle won state at the top division, eight of the nine seniors went on to play Division I college soccer, Kirchner said.
But Turnbow could end up being the best Pinnacle ever has had.
Losing goal keeper Jalen Tompkins and a strong field presence in Lily Brown had Kirchner wondering how she was going to piece this team together. Then, Turnbow enrolled.
“I’m excited to have someone who understands how to score,” Kirchner said. “The season in my eyes really starts in December. You have two months to create a state championship team, or a strong contender. To see them bond and want to represent Pinnacle High School, it’s awesome.”
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Spotlight: Girls soccer
Notable: Phoenix Pinnacle lost a couple of key players to graduation from a first-round state playoff team, but picked up two-time Washington state Gatorade Player of the Year Kelsey Turnbow, who moved in during the summer. She has more than 50 goals in her first two years in high school. The junior has committed to UC Santa Clara. Phoenix Mountain Pointe is expecting a big season with the return of Chynna Simmons and Ali Turk. Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor has a loaded schedule that includes eight teams that made the Division I playoffs last season, but it feels good in the net with Kennedy Rodgers, a senior. Phoenix Xavier Prep has worn head gear in practices and games to cut down the risk of concussions since 2008. Tucson Catalina Foothills is expected to be strong again in Division II. A fourth division was added this winter season.
2014-15 state champions: Gilbert Highland (Division I), Scottsdale Notre Dame (Division II), Sahuarita Walden Grove (Division III).
Teams to watch: Pinnacle, Highland, Perry, Catalina Foothills, Xavier Prep, Notre Dame, Walden Grove, Fountain Hills.
Players to watch: Kelsey Turnbow, Pinnacle, F, Jr.; Abby Hubbard, Xavier, MF/F, So.; Taylor Culver, Notre Dame, D/F, Jr.; Olivia Lai, Catalina Foothills, MF, Jr.; Erika Yost, Fountain Hills, F, Jr.
Mark on the calendar: Horizon Tournament of Champions, at Horizon, Nov. 30-Dec. 5; Arizona Showcase, at Reach 11, Dec. 28-31.
State tournament schedule: Feb. 2-13, Division I, II finals at Gilbert Campo Verde on Feb. 13; Divisions III, IV finals at Gilbert Williams Field on Feb. 12.
Reach Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.
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