Jul. 3—It seems only a pandemic can pause Erin Turley's reign atop the Calhoun County girls' high school soccer scene.
For leading Donoho to its first-ever berth in the state final, Turley is The Anniston Star's Calhoun County player of the year for the second time in three years. The freshman center midfielder led the Falcons with 37 goals and 28 assists.
Donoho finished 23-1-1, falling to Trinity Presbyterian 3-1 in the Class 1A-3A final.
Turley was county player of the year as a seventh-grader, in 2019. There was no all-county team in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Turley had help in Donoho's run this season. Tosin Sanusi finished with 35 goals and 23 assists. Goalkeeper Maggie Wakefield amassed 99 saves, including 34 in the championship match, and gave up just eight goals with 17 shutouts on the season.
All three players made the coaches' overall all-state, Turley on the first team and Sanusi and Wakefield on the second team. Defender Lillie Mae Sherman joined them on the 1A-3A all-state team.
Turley's play-making skills have been the biggest key for the Falcons' offensive production since she first took the field for them two years ago.
She took a few minutes to discuss the season and more for the player-of-the-year Q&A:
Question: You've had time to reflect on the season. What do you think about it?
Answer: I just feel like, with all of the challenges that we faced, we did really good as a team overcoming everything, especially with Kathleen (Seals) and all of the time that she's been out with her injury (concussion) and anyone else that had injuries, too. We really just came together and fought hard and faced adversity really well through the season.
Q: You guys came within one victory of a state title. How much motivation does that leave for next year?
A: Only losing one senior (defender Maggie Miller), we left a lot of motivation. With (Donoho coach) Jay (Jenkins) saying we'll be back, I really do believe we will be back and possibly win it all.
Q: How do you feel about your season, individual?
A: I'm just trying to get better and stronger each season and bring my stats up and just stay close to my teammates and have a good bond with everyone.
Q: When we had the player-of-the-year chat two years ago, we talked about older kids trying to knock you around, and you mentioned looking forward to the day when you can return the favor. You're two years older and stronger now, so how did that go this year?
A: I'm still not as big as some of those girls. I did get knocked down a good bit, but the majority of it was blocks to get some fouls, but I've been working out a lot and getting stronger.
Q: Whom are you playing for this summer, and how is that going?
A: Alabama FC. We had our first showcase in North Carolina a couple of weekends ago, but we didn't qualify it to Florida. This weekend, the team is going to South Carolina. I was supposed to go, but this ankle thing happened.
Q: Ankle thing?
A: Last year was a higher-grade sprain. This one is not as bad. It's going to take a week and a half to heal. I went up to this girl to block her from passing the ball, and I stepped my left foot out, and the ball hit my foot so hard that it rolled, and the ligament tore.
Q: You're already getting interest from Auburn. I know it's early, but what do you think of recruiting at this stage?
A: I feel like exposure is really important this summer. I attended one camp. I got some exposure to a couple of smaller schools, like Southern Miss, Winthrop and places like that, but toward the end of July, I'm planning on going to Auburn's camp and Alabama's camp to get some exposure there. I was going to go to UAB's but I don't think this ankle is going to let me.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.