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Season Wasn’t Taylor-Made

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Kim Taylor is a top player on a team that is playing for a Southern Section girls’ soccer championship today, yet she doesn’t even hesitate when she says, “This has been a really frustrating season for me.”

So it goes when you play in pain.

Taylor has been competing with a serious ankle injury for the last six months. Even though she has helped Chaminade (22-4-2) reach the Division IV title game against Bishop Montgomery at 2 p.m. today at Cerritos Gahr High, a succession of injuries has prohibited her from living up to her considerable potential.

“I’ve been told to take a couple of months off or to have surgery but I can’t do that,” she said. “I feel like I’d be letting my coaches and teammates down.”

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Regarded as the region’s best young club player before she reached high school, Taylor did not disappoint as a freshman, leading Chaminade with 17 goals and 13 assists to help the Eagles win their second consecutive Division III title.

But last summer Taylor injured ligaments and a bone in her left ankle during a club practice. She has yet to recover. Physical therapy and the use of anti-inflammatory medicines have allowed her to play--but not with her usual flair.

Despite the ankle injury and others to her shoulder and neck, Taylor has remained a force. In December, she was a standout at the Excalibur tournament in Santa Ana, helping Chaminade ride a string of upsets to the final.

However, the nonleague and tournament exertions proved costly when Taylor played significant minutes in only three Mission League games. Chaminade finished second to Harvard-Westlake, winning the three games with Taylor but struggling without her.

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“We were like a football team without its quarterback,” said Coach Mike Evans of Chaminade, whose team beat league rival Flintridge Sacred Heart by nine goals with Taylor and by two without her. “Even though Kim’s never been healthy this season, she makes everyone around her better.”

Taylor is a member of the U.S. under-15 national pool and could well reach her dream of playing at college powerhouse North Carolina if her relentless spirit doesn’t push her body too far.

“She’s so competitive it’s kind of sick,” said Adolfo Perez, Taylor’s club coach for the last four seasons. “She goes overboard with her work ethic sometimes.”

Taylor said her focus comes from her father Greg, a former UCLA football lineman, and her mother Beth, a former high school track athlete.

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Her intense training, combined with superb ball skills and an imposing, 5-foot-6, 130-pound frame, make Taylor formidable.

“She’s a tank and her body is her forte,” Perez said. “Girls try to tackle her and they hurt themselves. Her size gives her that powerful shot and the ability to hold onto the ball.”

Although she is a natural goal-scorer, Taylor has raised her play-making ability to new heights.

“She has magic feet,” Evans said. “She’s a player who creates things you don’t expect. Instead of a [teammate] having to receive a ball and touch it into space to shoot it, Kim thinks ahead and puts the ball into the space and saves her a step.”

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Taylor’s steps have been halting all season.

But she’ll be walking on air if Chaminade achieves its final goal of the season today.


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