Morgan Turner shines in fifth year return

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Audrey Champelli

DePaul forward Morgan Turner kicking the ball away from a UConn player on Oct. 10.

Morgan Turner is a returning fifth year graduate student for the DePaul women’s soccer team with the hopes of ending her career on her own terms. The Blue Demons season was cut short due to the pandemic last year and she wasn’t able to get a proper send off that a player of her stature deserves.

Turner grew up in Maple Grove, a small town located in Minnesota. Yet she has made the transition to the big city of Chicago as her new home over the past few years. She hasn’t only been successful in the classroom, but she has made a significant impact on the women’s soccer team at DePaul as their leading scorer on the season.

Turner has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember and it’s always been her favorite thing growing up. Her biggest inspirations as a young player were Mia Hamm, Alex Morgan and anyone who played for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Her love for soccer began at an early age and ever since she could remember, it’s been her favorite thing to do.

Turner’s favorite soccer moment came her junior season when the Blue Demons took on Georgetown at home which resulted in her scoring the game winning goal in overtime. The game will go down as her all-time favorite soccer moment that she will cherish forever.

Turner played for the Minnesota Thunderbolts Academy her junior and senior year of high school and was recruited by DePaul University at just 16 years old. Turner committed to DePaul her sophomore year at Wayzata High School and knew all along that she wanted to become a Blue Demon and continue her education at DePaul. Since returning for her fifth season, Turner has led the Blue Demons offense in goals scored and shots on goal for the season.

“When I visited DePaul, I already knew my decision was made up and I just fell in love with the campus with it being located in Chicago,” Turner said. “I’m from Minnesota so it’s an easy flight so I wanted to explore something new outside of Minnesota and not go too far away. The location was perfect for me and I loved the coaches on staff to go along with a great group of players that welcomed me in.”

Throughout Turner’s career at DePaul over the past few years, she has earned 2017 Big East All-Freshman Team, 2018-19 Big East All-Academic Team, 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-North/Central Region All-Scholar First Team and 2020-21 All-Big East Second Team. To go along with her impressive accolades, the Blue Demons are 5-0 when Turner scores a goal this season.

Turner has meant so much to the Blue Demons over the last four years at DePaul and she has not only made a huge impact on the program, but on her teammates and coaches as well.

“I would say that she is just such a selfless player on the field and she is such an extraordinary teammate to play alongside,” teammate Megan Malecha said. “She has really just been someone that I’ve always looked up to and viewed as such a great teammate.”

“Morgan is such a goal-scorer and she is just a different type of player,” head coach Michele O’Brien said. “She’s very athletic and has been tough for opposing defenses to deal with when she’s running at them with the ball. When her shot gets going, I think she’s unstoppable.”

O’Brien was recently promoted to head coach and has been on the staff since 2014. She has spent the past four years with Turner and really helped her develop into the player she is today. O’Brien wasn’t involved heavily in Turner’s recruitment but was well-aware of how great of a talent she was.

“I was on maternity leave when she was being heavily recruited so I probably only saw her play one or two times before she committed to DePaul,” O’Brien said. “When I did see her play, her athleticism overall really stood out and you can tell she had a ton of determination that were some stand-out characteristics from her in the recruiting process.”

Due to the pandemic, the soccer team played a shortened season in 2020. Turner decided to come back for her fifth season and continue her graduate degree at DePaul. According to Turner, it was an easy decision and she didn’t hesitate to return.

“Last year with the pandemic was a really tough year — only having nine games and one of them being canceled and not being able to spend that much time with my teammates was difficult,” Turner said. “Having an opportunity to come back and play with my best friends was a no-brainer for me.”

Everyone around the team was thrilled with Turner’s decision to come back for another season.

“I was relieved and just so happy for her to be a part of our team and to contribute because last year wasn’t really a true picture of what a fall soccer season is,” O’Brien said. “I wouldn’t have wanted that to be her senior year.”

“I was just ecstatic and so excited because this is so key to our season having her here and she’s also one of our captains and such a great leader,” Malecha said. “With us being such close friends, I was really excited about her returning.”

Turner has all of the talent to reach the pro level and her teammates and coaches have faith in her ability to get there one day if she decides that is the route she wants to take.

“Beyond college, if she wanted to continue her soccer career, I definitely think there is a place for her to continue doing that at the next level,” O’Brien said. “I think her athleticism and competitive mindset are so invaluable that she will learn and she will get better even as a player. I think her potential is so much higher than she has even reached.”

Turner isn’t exactly sure what her future soccer career has in store but until then, she will be focused on finishing her masters graduate degree in public policy. She plans on staying in Chicago in the near future and eventually would love to travel. Her dream has always been to travel to Paris and spend some significant time there but when it comes to soccer, everything is up in the air.