On a Madison team with talent that carried it to a 21-3 mark, a fifth straight Morris County Tournament championship, the NJSIAA Group II title and a Tournament of Champions semifinal, Caroline Turnbull was at the hub of it all.
Scoring, defending or on penalty corners, the senior center mid excelled at every phase of the game and was an integral component of Madison’s game plan on either side of the field.
One of three 20 goal scorers for a Dodgers’ offense that racked up 136 goals, Turnbull was Madison’s leading scorer with 26 goals and 15 assists to finish her career as a four-year starter with 54 goals and 38 assists.
“Playing center mid, I like to think that I have control over the game,” said Turnbull, the 2015 All Daily Record Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“I’m able to run back on defense and help out to keep the other team from scoring, but I can also help our team score, so I can contribute at both ends. This year, I think being a senior, I kind of stepped into the role of leadership. Being in the midfield helps because I was able to set up my teammates to score or be able to finish when I had to. We had such a strong offense this season, so there were a lot of options.”
A forward her first two seasons, Turnbull easily made the transition when she was moved to center mid as a junior.
“Since the fifth grade, I had played center mid,” said Turnbull, who plans to play at Lafayette next fall. “So when I went back there, I felt like I was at home. Playing forward really helped to give me more of an offensive-minded game, but as a center mid, I just felt more comfortable, and things came naturally. It let me get involved in all of the plays, and I like that.”
Veteran coach Anne Marie Davies knew just what she had when she put Turnbull at center mid.
“We needed someone to control the middle of the field, someone who is not afraid to distribute the ball, someone who is not afraid to take a shot and someone who has the conditioning to get back and play defense,” Davies said. “Caroline had all the characteristics of a center mid. She’s a workhorse on both sides of the ball. She can score, she can be a playmaker, can play defense and has a great work ethic and great field vision.”
While she’s been an integral part of Madison’s attack with her scoring and assists, Turnbull’s attentiveness to defense helped the Dodgers limit the opposition to 22 goals this season. A striker on offensive penalty corners, Turnbull also relished her role as flyer on defensive corners.
“Later in the season, we realized that we were going to be playing some really talented teams, and defense wins championships,” Turnbull said. “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. I was more focused on defense. … On those defensive corners, I flew. I was the first one to the ball, and I kind of liked being able to immediately put the pressure on the person with the ball.”
It’s not merely talent and a strong work ethic that have contributed to the development of Turnbull’s game.
“As captain, Caroline was a great leader,” Davies said. She is a great all-around kid. She not only has talent but spirit off the field. She’s well liked by her teammates and is a real motivator. Her energy is very contagious. She is so talented but very humble at the same time.”