Katelyn Turtletaub is crazy …

14 01 2011

I’ve been covering San Mateo county sports for five years. That’s a lot of games, and a lot of athletes. One of the things I love about the job is that once in a blue moon, you see performances that etch a young athlete in your mind forever. A couple off the top of my head: Justine Record, Carlmont outside hitter, who had games where she was the closest thing to unstoppable I have ever seen. Staying in Belmont/San Carlos there’s Ashley Chinn, pitcher, who was filthy more often than not from the circle. Nik Jurado, Mills, who had the nastiest change-up during a game against Menlo-Atherton I have ever seen. Kat Douglas, Woodside volleyball, was a machine.

Yesterday, Katelyn Turtletaub of San Mateo high joined that list. The story below will tell you that her contribution wasn’t on the scoreboard, but the drama and excitement in her team’s 1-0 win over Aragon was all a product of her craziness. I went to bed last night thinking I might have overdone a bit with the story, maybe made it a little too dramatic, but for me, it was a unique experience. Feel free to comment below. Picture above is by Nathan Mollat — who I’d say was just as floored as I was.

Disney-esque finish
By Julio Lara • Daily Journal Staff

Lights. Camera. Action.

San Mateo’s Katelyn Turtletaub stands at midfield, 10 minutes into the second half of her team’s Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division game against rival Aragon, waiting to be substituted into the contest.

The sky is painted gray by clouds that appear primed to drop some more water in this, the latest Bay Area storm. Aragon fans cheer behind her, pushing their team forward, propelling them to keep knocking on the proverbial door, pushing the Dons to score in the game that is tied at zero.

Turtletaub is anxious. Tick tick tick. She’s shuffling her feet, sprinting in place. The soccer ball innocently goes over the San Mateo end line for a corner kick. The referee blows his whistle. Turtletaub is in.

Fade to black.

Rewind the clock 55 minutes and you’ll see a different portrait of Turtletaub. The San Mateo striker isn’t in uniform. Instead, she’s wearing a Stanford hoodie, black leggings and some Uggs. She’s eating a sandwich, probably from Togo’s, while the rest of her team ready themselves for battle against Aragon. Sandwich complete, Turtletaub walks, no, hobbles to the nearest trash can. Playing in Thursday’s game is an afterthought to every single spectator. Aragon has caught a break. The opening whistle sounds with Turtletaub nursing a sprained ankle and a separated shoulder.

Fade to black.

We’re back in the game now, the second half to be exact, and Aragon is in control. Kat McAuliffe, the Dons’ captain, is playing some exceptional soccer. Her technical skill on the ball is the catalyst to wave after wave of Aragon offensive pressure. But San Mateo goalkeeper Karyn Jacobs is up to every challenge, making save after awesome save.

It was a much different story in the first half. In the first 40 minutes, the teams combined for a total of four shots — only one of which required a save by either keeper. Aislinn Okacha, Stephanie Lee and Danielle Coyle manned a tough back line for the Bearcats, while Stevie Herrera and Rachel Killigrew push ahead for the Dons.

Tick tick tick.

Turtletaub sits uncomfortably on the bench for San Mateo. As the whistle for the end of the first half blows through the damp January air, Turtletaub thinks a crazy thought: battered body and all, she wants to go into this game. Doctors told her she can’t further injure herself and, if she does go in, she should know she’ll have to fight through a lot of pain. That is all the San Mateo senior needs to know.

With her mind made up to play, it was now time to piece the monster together.

Fade to black.

Turtletaub is half running, half hobbling, with Monica De Leon’s cleats in her left hand, on the San Mateo high school track. She has just raced back from the student parking lot to fetch them from the trunk of the car. Elsewhere on the track, her San Mateo teammates have been piecing together a uniform for Turtletaub to wear. There’s an extra jersey, No. 16, and a pair of shorts that are way too big for her. The socks are Sam Monipour’s. The shin guards, they belong to a girl from the frosh/soph team. Slipping everything on and tying her hair in a ponytail, Turtletaub takes a second to hand her earrings to Monipour. She’s ready to go in.

Fade to black.

There are now 12 minutes left in the game and Aragon is still knocking, and knocking often. McAuliffe just had the best opportunity to break the scoreless tie. She just dusted off two San Mateo defenders while hugging the Bearcats endline with the soccer ball. Breathtaking stuff. She just beat Jacobs and has an open net. Doyle sees this and makes a desperate dive to clear the ball off her line. The Aragon sideline jumps as McAuliffe shoots and let’s out a collective sigh as Doyle successfully attempts to clear the ball centimeters from the line. For the half, Aragon would have 10 shots on the goal — eight of which required saves from Jacobs. This one in particular belonged to Doyle.

Fade to black.

There are now 11 minutes left in the game and Turtletaub is standing at her forward position. She’s had a couple of touches, one that almost resulted in a goal, but for the most part she stands, biding her time, conserving her runs, holding her shoulder which has to be throbbing.

Suddenly a ball is played in her direction from the left. A failed attempt to clear the ball allowed for a ricochet off a San Mateo player and the ball lands at Turtletaub’s feet some 20 yards from the Aragon goal. Stepping to her right with a defender draped on her, the striker lets off a shot which strikes the right goal post. Dayna Sakata, who’s played a tough game for San Mateo and has intelligently continued her run, sees the ball bounce and roll to her feet some 12 yards from an open net. She calmly stares down an open spot and, showing superb control, taps the ball into the back of the Aragon net. The San Mateo sideline erupts in joy and the team, led by Turtletaub, embraces Sakata.

Fade to black.

The final whistle blows and San Mateo has won. The Bearcat players are elated as they walk off the field to form a line and salute a valiant Aragon team. Turtletaub still hobbles, but she can’t mask the gigantic smile on her face. She turns and looks at the reporter covering the game and says, “It was worth it.”

Fade to black.

Aragon head coach Will Colglazier stands with a pair of voice recorders in his face and takes a second to choose his words carefully. It takes him a minute and six seconds to set up this sequel which will take place at Aragon in a couple of weeks.

“We know we’re one of the elite teams in CCS, not just PAL, CCS. We’re getting some tough breaks. We know we’re good. But like I told the girls, the intensity that was on that field in the last 10 minutes of the game needs to be the intensity for 80 minutes of the game. We were knocking on the door, they were saving balls off the line, the keeper is saving things off the line,” he said. “The soccer gods are frowning on us right now, but we will not be deterred. This team will not be deterred. Good teams are unified when they’re winning. Great teams are unified when they’re tying or losing. And this team wants it. We will turn it around.”

Fade to black.

Sakata and a man, probably her father, are taking down the canopy that protected her teammates during their game. Does she think Turtletaub is crazy for going into the game with all her injuries?

“She’s not crazy,” Sakata said. “She’s just Katelyn.”




3 responses

4 02 2011
San Mateo’s Big Win — « Oh My July!

[…] couple of weeks ago when I posted this story, I got an email from a Mr. Coyle. He told me he loved the story (cool), BUT that I had misspelled […]

8 02 2013
Mother Theresa

I still love reading this story, Julio. Its my favorite.

27 02 2013

Thanks, Mrs. T. Looking back, I’d rewrite it a little different. But, it was an awesome game … one of my favorites, too.

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