FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As the New England Revolution added another three points to their lead atop the Supporters' Shield standings with a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC on Saturday night, there were several key moments throughout the 90 minutes.
While one of the biggest game changers was Matt Turner’s thrilling save in the 75th minute to deny a Nani penalty kick that would have erased New England’s 2-1 lead, it was surprisingly not Turner’s biggest play of the night.
Malia Jusczyk is a pediatric cancer patient currently battling a rare, aggressive form of childhood cancer. It is the second time in her young life that she is soldiering her way through the illness.
Jusczyk was honored as the Revolution’s Honorary Captain for the squad’s ‘Kick Childhood Cancer Game’ and as an active player in Plainville's youth soccer program, she was ecstatic to have this special recognition at a game at Gillette Stadium.
Before the match, Jusczyk mentioned her favorite player is Turner, and the two had an extraordinary meeting after the game.
After the final whistle, Turner escorted Jusczyk for a special lap around the pitch with Revs fans cheering her on as she continues her ongoing fight against childhood cancer.
“It was honestly just a magical night,” said Turner. “It had that sparkle to it. It had that playoff feel. The fans were great. I'm just so grateful for all the people that stuck around to cheer [Malia] on and bring a smile to her face because it makes my job when I'm walking her around a lot easier.
“It was just an amazing night, and this is why I love what I do.”
Jusczyk kicked a ball with Turner postgame showing off some of her fancy footwork. Her passion is playing soccer. Jusczyk loves battling in the midfield and is known for slide tackles on her team.
The young Plainville native also left Foxborough with several unique mementos to bring home, with Turner’s game-worn jersey and the limited-edition game ball for childhood cancer awareness month.
The two shared a hug while saying goodbye after their lap around Gillette Stadium’s field, and evidently, they were both equally as touched from the moments they shared.
“To be able to give back, to be able to put things into perspective [is important] as well because it's no secret the past couple games have been rough for me,” said Turner. “I've been struggling to keep the ball out the back of the net, to be frank. So, just to put things into perspective of what's really important, why we do this, and also to have that penalty save to sort of get some confidence back. It was just a really good night for me.”
While the Revolution sit atop the table, it’s clear in moments like Jusczyk and Turner shared, that there are some things in life that are bigger than soccer. Creating moments to give back through the sport is an opportunity that Turner, as well as the rest of the roster, truly cherish.