Maggie Pierce and Emily Turgeon have more in common than it seems – and it all starts on the soccer field.
Pierce is a 14-year-old Raleigh soccer player in the early stages of her athletic career.
Turgeon, 34, has already had her chance at playing and coaching high school and college soccer.
Both play for the Raleigh-based Oak City FC, a Women’s Premier Soccer League team. The inaugural season will come to a close after home games at the WRAL Soccer Park on Saturday and Sunday.
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Turgeon, who has been training Pierce since middle school, was a familiar face when Pierce, a defender, joined in June.
Both players are Cardinal Gibbons products: Turgeon graduated in 2000, and Pierce is a rising sophomore who played on Gibbons’ two-loss girls’ soccer team last season. And both are proud to represent the growth of women’s soccer in Raleigh.
Oak City FC will host the Carolina Rapids Saturday at 4 p.m. and the Greensboro Lady Dynamo Sunday at 1 p.m. at WRAL Soccer Park to close its inaugural season.
“It’s an honor to be out here and be part of it,” Turgeon said of playing for Oak City. “Honestly, I’m 34, and I’m a little older. You know, I’m not as fast as I used to be, but being able to watch women’s soccer grow is rewarding to me, regardless of how many minutes I spend on the field.”
Pierce is the youngest on the 32-player roster, and Turgeon believes she is the oldest. But Turgeon said the two-decade gap is an advantage for the younger girls.
It’s kind of like passing the baton to new women’s soccer players to keep the game strong in the United States.
Oak City FC’s Emily Turgeon
“I think it’s awesome to have an older generation of women who have already been through high levels of club and Division I college soccer and then a player like Maggie,” Turgeon said. “It’s kind of like passing the baton to new women’s soccer players to keep the game strong in the United States.”
After an All-American career at Cardinal Gibbons, Turgeon went on to play at Furman University. She later became a graduate assistant with the LSU team before returning to teach and coach at her alma mater in Raleigh.
Turgeon, who is a certified personal trainer, auctioned off a session for a Gibbons fundraiser, and Pierce’s father, Scott, purchased it. Turgeon said she felt an instant connection to Maggie Pierce and her family, especially since she knew the young soccer player would be on her way to Gibbons.
“We both grew up in Catholic schools,” Turgeon said. “I grew up playing Capital Area Soccer League, she plays for CASL. We both come from military families; both our dads were Army officers. Her dad went to West Point and I ended up marrying a West Pointer. (Maggie) already had very strong core values as a person and as a human being.”
Pierce has gained a lot from her years of training with one of only four Gibbons girls’ soccer All-Americans.
Pierce, who is already verbally committed to play at Carolina, made solid contributions to the Gibbons team as a freshman. She posted nine goals, six assists and 24 points.
Most of her training with Turgeon includes strength and conditioning and sports performance work to build her endurance.
Pierce said her time with Oak City will benefit her high school career.
“I think it’s really helped me playing with older girls and high-level players, practicing with them every day,” Pierce said. “It’s already made me better and stronger, and I think it really helps when I go back to playing players that are my age. I think it will help with the physical and mental side of the game.”
While there is no official age limit to join Oak City, coach and owner Lindsey DeLorenze said Pierce has held her own with the older players and that she was mentally prepared. DeLorenze said as long as a prospective player appears mentally and physically ready to take the field – and has her parents’ signature of approval – she’d accept her on the team.
Pierce’s presence, she added, can motivate younger girls to join a team she hopes evolves.
“I think it’s such a great and unique situation, and I’m happy to be part of something that can exemplify that,” DeLorenze said. “Having that gap in age is beneficial to both individuals, the team and the camaraderie. I think it brings a different dynamic, and I think it’s inspiring for young girls to see that. I guarantee (there are) girls Maggie’s age or younger who are saying ‘Oh my God, I can do that.’
“I think it’s an amazing thing.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4583, @JessikaMorgan